A Valid Investment in Greenfield Land

by : Thomas Pretty

Greenfield land is fundamentally land that has not been developed before. While many may think that this type of land is protected, this is a common confusion with the term greenbelt. The reason behind this is the two terms' interchangeable use in both the press and public sphere. Subsequently many consider Greenfield as unsuitable for development; while it mat not be environmentally sound to convert beautiful countryside, many areas are unused scrub and ripe for housing projects.

Four years ago the British government introduced reforms to the land system that were the most far reaching for almost sixty years. The purpose of this shake up was to help the government meet development targets for housing; subsequently vast amounts of Greenfield were opened up to allow building projects across the country. Ultimately the reforms set out to improve the efficiency of the planning process, making it faster and more flexible for developers. The policy however did not solely focus upon Greenfield developments, Brownfield land, areas of previous construction and disrepair, were the primary focus.

The development of Greenfield land can however raise some obstinate opposition from local residents. The opinion that this "shouldn't happen in my back yard" is common in communities where green spaces are loved and well used. While this opinion on Greenfield land development is certainly understandable, the lack of suitable housing nationwide means that many areas are inevitably going to be forced into accepting substantial construction projects to stay abreast of population increase.

That is not to say that vast swathes of the countryside are going to be cut up for new housing. The majority of local councils are far more interested in converting Brownfield areas, such as old bus depots and industrial sites. Preferably it is sites like these that will be developed at all costs over the development of Greenfield. Naturally all areas want to keep their natural habitats so the move to disregard its development is logical. However, there will not be enough Brownfield to meet the housing demands so once again it is inevitable that some green areas will be have to be used.

It is in the south east of England where the push for new housing developments will see the biggest diminishment of Greenfield land. Sadly as a highly populated area, counties such as Kent and Essex may see large amounts of green space developed for the sake of new housing. This will be especially true in rural areas where Brownfield space is hard to come by and the subsequent result is that small towns must expand into the countryside. Thankfully in rural areas there will be limits to the expansion, with such a large farming community in the south east it is likely that development efforts will be checked when they reach farmland.

As the country needs to supply increasing numbers of houses for its growing population it is essential that a balance must be struck between green and Brownfield use. Obviously it is Brownfield development that is preferable as it makes better use of sites that have been developed before or are in a state of disrepair. Currently for those with the financial means, buying land can be considered a decent investment, even if the property market is slumping; the value of land is a constant that will always hold value.

Once you factor development in, many are making vast profits from their original purchases. It may be at the cost of the countryside, but it is essential to develop both green and Brownfield sites if we want to progress the economy, society and country more generally.