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Greenfield Development

By definition, most of the land in the UK is Greenfield. Greenfield land is simply land that has not been developed before.

It is, however, important to distinguish between Greenfield and Greenbelt because the press, and particularly the public, see them as interchangeable. This leads people to view all Greenfield land as sacrosanct and therefore not at all suitable for future housing development.

Though greenfield land can be beautiful countryside, it can also be disused and unattractive scrub land next to existing development.

Greenfield and Sustainable Development

In September 2004, the government introduced reforms which were the most significant shake-up of the planning regulations in nearly 60 years. They were established to help John Prescott achieve his 'Sustainable Communities Plan' which is based on the assumption that everyone has the right to a decent home. The reforms effectively are designed to make the planning system faster and more flexible and to release more land, where necessary, to get more homes built.

In John Prescott's plan, the major aim is to use brownfield land e.g. land which had previously been developed. The target is that at least 60% of new development will occur on brownfield land, which in essence means that the remaining 40% or so will use greenfield land.

Such usage of greenfield land can arouse strong local opposition. NIMBYs (Not in my back yard) are always against any local development or change. This is understandable but in the UK it is a fact that if we are going to solve the housing shortage in certain area, then some greenfield development is inevitable.

Greenfield Prices

With future development in mind the price of greenfield land has risen steeply in the past few years. With rural land prices going up 30% in 2004 alone (RICS Rural Land Survey November 2004). Greenfield land is now seen as a viable alternative to stocks and shares and it is being purchased by a new brand of private investor. They see the potential of good returns if the land does eventually get planning permission. Even with the rising price of greenfield land, an acre with planning permission is worth at least 10 times more.

-  James M

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