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'COUNCILS SHOULD BE EMPOWERED TO SHAPE THE RIGHT SOLUTIONS FOR BROWNFIELD LAND'

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The LGA inquiry into brownfield land which published its report this week, has called for the government to provide...
The LGA inquiry into brownfield land which published its report this week, has called for the government to provide a comprehensive package of fiscal and legislative support to enable local authorities to take a more pro-active approach to developing brownfields.

David Sparks, chair of the LGA's brownfield land task group, which led the inquiry said:

`It is extremely encouraging that this report revealed the progress being made by many authorities in helping to deliver a successful renaissance of areas blighted by dereliction and contamination. However, the strongest finding shows that the overall level of resources available to local authorities and private developers is not sufficient to ensure high quality, sustainable redevelopment of brownfield land.

`The report therefore recommends that the government speedily introduce gap funding measures as well as a secure long term grant regime to allow local authorities to reclaim brownfield land to its full potential.

`Our findings are particularly pertinent in light of the government's recent announcement that the 60% target for new housing on previously used land is likely to be met. Although these targets are commendable in one sense, in some areas authorities will struggle to meet their targets as the extent of contamination is so great, the cost of cleaning up the land would not justify the end development.

`The challenge, is not merely that of bringing the land and buildings back into use, fundamentally, it is about matching the right set of solutions to the specific needs of the area.

NOTES

1. For a copy of the report `Something old, something new': telephone LGA sales on 0208 867 3287. The document is priced at£10 to local authorities and£20 to general public.

2. The report summarizes the main findings and recommendations of the LGA inquiry into brownfield land carried out on behalf of the LGA's economic and regeneration executive by a task group of ten cross-party local government elected members.

3. The LGA Inquiry into Brownfield Land was launched in August 2001 in response to the Urban White Paper and Urban Summit, 2001. The inquiry loosely followed the Select Committee hearings model, receiving written evidence from 94 individuals and organisations, during October 2001 to January 2002. The panel also heard oral evidence from 17 witnesses, including private development companies, local authorities, financial and legal organisations, and housing, rural and environmental organisations. The panel also undertook study tours and site visits of three areas of major brownfield development across the country.

4. Organisations who provided oral evidence to the inquiry included Groundwork UK, Tesco, Thames Gateway London Partnership, National Housing Federation, The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and Halton BC and Kirklees MBC.

5. The report:

* looks into the overall approach taken by local authorities to the redevelopment of brownfield land

* identifies the barriers to brownfield land redevelopment

* looks into planning, environmental, funding and other issues arising in dealing with brownfield land

* proposes key mechanisms and further reform that could improve the chances of securing effective reuse of brownfield land

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