In England during 2016-2017 fewer homes were created on previously developed land, within the Green Belt and in flood risk areas, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has found.
Some 53% of new homes were created on previously developed land, 3% fewer year-on-year. Furthermore, 2% of new homes were created within the Green Belt, down from 4% in 2016-2017 and 9% of new homes were created within areas of high flood risk, down from 11% year-on-year.
Joseph Daniels, founder of modular developer Project Etopia, said: “A halving of the proportion of new homes being built in the Green Belt is fantastic, but it shouldn’t be coming alongside a disappointing fall in the use of previously developed land elsewhere.
“Pressure on the Green Belt has never been higher, so the country’s use of previously developed land should only be going one way.
“Part of the problem is that previously developed land is often disliked by developers because it is smaller and difficult to access. Economies of scale then make it less profitable to develop but this is where modular and modern construction methods are capable of making these sites viable again.
“So, what is significant about any slump in the re-use of this land is that it points to a sluggish pace of adoption of modern methods of construction.
“Future generations desperately need is more housing, and there is still plenty of scope for developed land is being used for this purpose.”
The main previous land use categories on which a residential property was created were: agricultural land at 17% of all addresses created, vacant not previously developed land (15%) and ‘other developed use’ land at 13%.
The average density of homes surrounding a newly created residential address was 31, a decrease from 32 in 2016-17.
Housing minister MP Kit Malthouse, added: “These figures show just one per cent of England is used for housing, and the proportion delivered on the Green Belt land halved over the last year.
“Our planning rulebook places strong protections on our cherished Green Belt, so councils have to show unprecedented circumstances before it can be built on.
“We are pushing hard to deliver 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s, but this won’t be at the expense of our beautiful natural heritage.”
Andy Sommerville, director of Search Acumen, said it was a good year for housebuilding and developers will have to become smarter, something which technology can help with.
He said: “Not only was it a strong year of house building in 2017/18 with more than 160,000 homes completed in England, but as today’s Land Use Change Statistics reveal, it was a smarter year as developers built 3,300 more homes on previously undeveloped land compared to 2016/17.
“The desire for us to build more homes seems to be limitless, but we only have so much available land in England to build on before it becomes overcrowded. We encourage builders to take advantage of new technologies to seek out previously undeveloped land suitable for homes.
“Conserving the countryside is an emotive issue and many will be relieved to see that we don’t need to sacrifice green spaces to press on with house-building targets. In 2017/18 half as many homes were built on previously undeveloped Green Belt land compared to 2016/17.
“Going forward, developers will have to become even smarter to be able to find more space to build more homes. Using digital data and the latest in planning tools will allow them to unlock more house building potential across England.”