YORKSHIRE councils will come under pressure to review plans to allow house-building on green belt land as new figures suggest thousands of homes could be built on brownfield sites in the region.
A new report from the Campaign to Protect Rural England claims the amount of brownfield land available for development in Yorkshire is far bigger than previously thought.
The group found brownfield sites alone in Leeds, Selby, Hull and Sheffield could provide land for more than 53,000 homes. enough to meet the four districts’ housing needs for more than seven years.
CPRE took the figures from a Government pilot scheme to document the amount of brownfield land available across the countr.y
They suggest that the quantity of brownfield land could be more than 10 per cent higher than previously thought.
The figures have emerged as councils across the region draw up new local plans which decide where homes should be built.
As part of the process, many have reviewed the boundaries of the green belt arguing that housing demand has made the changes necessary in addition to allocating green fields for development.
CPRE chief executive Shaun Spiers said: “We need to build good, affordable homes quickly in the right places. No one is suggesting that we will be able to provide all the homes we need without ever building on a greenfield site.
“But the Government needs to do much more to reconcile its commitment both to build a million homes and to protect the countryside, including the Green Belt it recently described as ‘sacrosanct’.
“These official figures show that there is plenty of suitable brownfield land available, and that the supply of brownfield land continues to grow.
“The Government and local authorities must now ensure that developers use it.
“This will not only save countryside, it will help ensure thriving towns and cities.”
In a separate report also published today, the Government has been warned it has a “long way to go” to meet its target to release enough unused public land to build 160,000 houses by 2020.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of MPs found that many of the sites identified for sale are currently being used while many Government departments had made slow progress in disposing of sites.
They also expressed concern that accelerating land sales to meet the 2020 target could mean sites are sold off too cheaply.
The PAC was highly critical of a previous Government plan to release land for 100,000 homes by 2015 which, it said, had failed to demonstrate value for money or show it had helped tackle housing shortages..
In its report on the new programme, the PAC credits the Government with improving the process but warns significant concerns remain.
Committee chairman Meg Hillier said: “Sluggish sales have hindered progress towards the 2020 target while questions continue to hang over the potential of many sights earmarked for sale and whether homes will be in the places people want to live.
“Ultimately the public will judge the success of this programme on the basis of the homes built and the Government must make clear who taxpayers should hold to account for this.
“Meanwhile our committee will continue to take a close interest in the programme as it moves forward.”