PRESS RELEASE: British public supports building housing on brownfield land over commercial uses

Cut out house structure with the roof being added by a hand. A cut out tree stands to the left.

50% of British adults say housing should be a priority when it comes to building on brownfield land, including half of 2019 Conservative voters (51%).

Over a quarter (28%) of 2019 Conservative voters favour public sector buildings or community facilities, but just 9% of this group think brownfield land development should focus first on commercial uses like offices, shops, hotels, and warehouses.

The YouGov poll commissioned for Coin Street Community Builders looks at views on developing on brownfield land – plots that have previously been used and are ready for redevelopment. British adults of all common political affiliations, and demographic profiles, rated housing as the number one priority when building on brownfield sites.

340,000 homes a year are needed in the UK to meet housing need, with 145,000 of these in the social and affordable category. Despite this, planning applications for large office-led developments continue to crop-up, particularly in London, where the housing crisis is felt most acutely. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs warned in June that demand for office space is in decline.

The new polling data released today demonstrates public support for the government’s promise to build more homes on brownfield land in cities with the vast majority of respondents (75%) wanting to see brownfield prioritised over greenfield sites where housing is concerned. 

This follows a delay last month to Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove’s final decision on plans for an enormous office block directly on London’s South Bank, home to some of the capitals most visited sites, including Oxo Tower Wharf, the Southbank Centre, the National Theatre, and Tate Modern.

Plans for the office building, dubbed a “monstrosity” and “slab” by commentators, went to public inquiry late last year following significant public opposition to the development. The local community, along with nearly 6000 signatories to a public petition, is hoping Michael Gove will refuse planning permission for Mitsubishi Estates’ proposed redevelopment of the former ITV television studios and headquarters. Not a single home is included in the Mitsubishi scheme despite ITV having been granted consent in 2018 for a mixed-use development including 211 flats. The Secretary of State’s decision is expected on or before 6 October.

David Hopkins, Director of Community at Coin Street Community Builders said:

“There is a housing crisis across the country and especially in London. We support redevelopment on under-used brownfield sites, but housing and green spaces should be a part of those plans wherever possible. What we see with 72 Upper Ground is an office block that meets neither the housing needs of the local community nor business needs of the area. It clearly goes against what most people want from these kinds of sites and places like the South Bank. Michael Gove is getting it right when he takes developments like 72 Upper Ground to public inquiry. We are pleased he is spending extra time to really consider what’s right for neighbourhoods where there is a desperate shortage of homes for residents.”

Click below to download our full press release including notes to editors and You Gov poll data