Brownfield sites prime for building. Derelict architecture crying out to be regenerated. Both are common sites up and down the United Kingdom, but why? With a long standing housing shortage only predicted to get worse, what are we doing to utilise these potentially valuable resources?
The value of the land on which they sit is key. Developers want to maximise their profits, ideally with as little input as possible. So rather than regenerating and the costly process of hiring an architect, developing and completing a scheme, they are content to sit tight with a degenerating site. As long as the land value is increasing, securing a bigger profit at the end of the day, they will wait for years, even decades. This selfish approach gives no thought to neighbours who have to put up with their own home values suffering as a result of the unsightly shell two doors down.
So what can we do? Whilst I’m sure there are already long-winded procedures in place perhaps to deal with this issue, perhaps now is the time for councillors and urban planners to get tough. Why can’t we give them the power to to take derelict land away from the owners? It could be given a fixed time-frame, so that if a plot lies empty for 3 or 5 years without a conscious and meaningful effort to either sell the land or redevelop the property local councils have the right to inherit it.
And with so many people desperate to get on the property ladder what better way is there of bringing quality housing stock to the market quickly?
Credits: Image and data linked to sources.