1998 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: Center for Public Environmental Oversight <cpro@igc.apc.org>
Date: Fri, 17 Apr 1998 23:15:54 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: United Kingdom: Brownfields vs. Greenfield Development

Hello Everyone,

Thanks to everyone who participated in the interesting discussion about
community participation last week.  It was very enlightening to learn
about everybody's viewpoints.

I want to bring your attention to a debate developing in the UK. As you
know Brownfields isn't just an American problem.  I came across a series
of BBC articles about the issues surrounding brownfields vs.
greenfields.  Housing development in the countryside appears to be one
of the hot issues.  If anyone else knows of any other international news
pertaining to brownfields,  I'd be interested in hearing about it.

Here are some of the key points of what I read.

The UK Government says that 4.4 million new homes will need to be built
by 2016 to accommodate housing demands.  Part of the Government's plan
is to "force" developers to build 60% of all new homes in towns and
cities versus the the greenbelt areas.
According to the BBC, currently only 40% of housing development are in
urban areas.

But builders claim they need more incentives to reduce green belt
development and accommodate the Government's 60% request. According to a
survey, 80% of house builders would not be prepared to invest in buying
contaminated land unless it had be cleaned already. Some 70% of the
builders asked, said the decision to buy former industrial sites
depended on how much of a clean-up would be needed even if the costs
could be reflected in the purchasing price.  It appears that the UK
government needs to play a bigger role in getting developers build on
brownfields sites because developers claim that there will always be a
great demand for houses in the countryside.

One other problem of developing on a brownfields site is the stigma
attached to the site.  In a study conducted by the Joseph Rowntree
Foundation, home builders developing on Brownfields sites are reluctant
to give information about the former industrial sites, even when
contamination problems have been successfully treated.  As a result,
there is mistrust among home buyers because of this information is
usually withheld.

In the political arena, the Government has "said one thing and done
another".   On February 2, 1998, the Government approved 150 acres of
greenbelt land in Hertfordshire for housing development, which the
residents fought and defeated.  The Government is interested in taxing
greenfield development to add incentive for developing contaminated
sites.  The problem is that in England the biggest demand for new homes
is in the South East and the majority of old industrial land is in the
Midlands and North.

So what can a people do if there isn't a market demand for developing
Brownfields sites?

Here is the web site to access all the complete articles. As of  2/23/98




Tony Chenhansa
Brownfields Project Assistant
Center for Public Environmental Oversight (Formerly known as CAREER/PRO)

A program of the San Francisco Urban Institute
425 Market Street 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA  94105
phone: 415-904-7751
fax: 415-904-7765
e-mail: cpro@igc.apc.org

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