Land is at a premium across the UK, and housebuilders are having to keep their options open when looking for new sites for their developments.
Data published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) confirms that the number of new homes now being built on previously developed land has decreased by 5% and accounted for 56% of new homes in 2016/2017 compared with 61% in the previous year.
Not surprisingly, all new-build residential housing in London is built on sites where development or buildings have already existed. The lowest recorded numbers across the country for homes being built on previously developed land is in Redditch, registering at 13%, and Milton Keynes and the Vale of White Horse where the figure stands at 14%.
Look at environmental reports before committing
Building on previously developed land is considered not to be without risk. Geoff Offen, managing director at Future Climate Info, said: “These homes could lie on contaminated land, unstable ground or in areas that exceed legal air purity levels. It is important that buyers are informed and take advantage of accessing the detailed environmental reports to consider the risks and follow their advice.”
Interestingly, it seems that more developers are venturing into riskier areas as the research finds that 11% of new homes have been developed on high flood risk land, an increase from 2015/2016 when it stood at 9%.
Geoff Offen added: “Homeowners and buyers should make sure they are aware of the risk involved where homes are built on flood plains and make sure they are prepared for such an eventuality. Our findings show that more than one in 10 new homes were built on sea or river flood plains which are prone to flooding.
“While the national housing shortage compels us to seek out more land across England and Wales to build homes upon, buyers of these new properties must be aware of the risks their new bricks and mortar face.”
“With more granular information available, it’s possible that even more homes may be susceptible to flooding. Our data shows that around one in seven homes in 2016/2017 were at risk of flooding, a figure that climbs to one in three in some urban areas.”
Farmers continue to sell off agricultural land
According to the latest MHCLG research, it seems that farmers and agricultural landowners may feel under pressure and nervous about the impact of Brexit, leading them to sell off land to developers, with 16% of new homes being built on agricultural land.
There was also a rise in the number of new homes on green belt land, accounting for 4% in 2016/2017, a rise of 2%.
The figures reflect the growing awareness and commitment from the government to push on with its target of creating community-led new residential schemes, boosting the amount of affordable homes nationwide and dealing with the UK’s housing shortage.