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Starmer’s approach must focus on brownfield first, we say

10th October 2023

CPRE welcomes Keir Starmer’s pledge to ‘build a new Britain’ by prioritising brownfield sites for development.

This brownfield-first approach has the potential to provide genuinely affordable housing for millions of people without damaging the countryside around towns and cities which is crucial for the wellbeing of millions of people and sacrificing rural communities.

In his speech today to the Labour Party Conference, Starmer summoned the housebuilding ambition of the postwar Labour government, the same government that introduced the Green Belts around our largest towns and cities and launched National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Atlee administration also understood the value of a plan-led approach to land-use decisions creating the planning system we largely still use today. Today’s Labour Party should not forget this and must commit to protecting this invaluable legacy.

Commenting on Keir Starmer’s speech, CPRE’s Chief Executive Roger Mortlock said:

‘There is lots to welcome in Labour’s brownfield-first approach and densification of our towns and cities. The Labour Leader is right to highlight that unadopted Local Plans are leading to speculative, unsustainable development which is ‘potholing’ the Green Belt and our countryside.

‘Brownfield land can provide room for 1.2 million new homes and before we start thinking about a new generation of New Towns, we need to make sure we’ve exhausted the untapped potential of brownfield land.

‘The Green Belt will be critical to deliver solutions to the nature and climate crisis. While sustainable development on brownfield land in the Green Belt can be part of the solution, we challenge the idea that ‘grey’ belt land should include areas of scrubland that should be restored to enhance nature and support natural solutions to the climate crisis.

‘Alongside these announcements, we need to match the ambition of the post-war Labour Government in protecting our countryside and restoring nature.’

Machinery on brownfield land
Lee Hudson / Alamy


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