The countryside can breathe a sigh of relief, thanks to a government initiative to build new homes on previously developed brownfield land. Government figures show that 15 councils have achieved a land recycling level of 95% with just one new home in every 20 being built on a greenfield site.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is currently campaigning hard to prevent proposed changes in Government planning guidance, weakening the ‘brownfield-first’ approach of recent years. Over the last four years Watford has achieved a record 100% land recycling figure with Epsom and Ewell close behind on 99%. Meanwhile Worcester was the most improved area ? raising the level of recycled land from 15% to 81%.

‘We warmly congratulate these councils,? said Henry Oliver, CPRE’s Head of Planning and Local Government. ?We’re delighted that there has been such strong progress across the country by council planners and developers in raising the level of land recycling and getting away from wastefully low densities for new housing. ‘Together, these improvements in land recycling and density have saved thousands of acres of countryside from being built on each year ? even though the number of new homes being built has been growing.’

But although most councils improved their overall performance on land recycling over the last few years, some have yet to change their building tactics. Thirteen councils covering medium sized and larger towns (40,000 plus people) built less than one third ?of new homes on brownfield land. Corby was England?s worst recycler, with just 9% of homes built on brownfield and Milton Keynes and Noth Lincolnshire both built less than 20% – a far cry from the Government?s national target for at least 60% of new homes to be built on brownfield land or by converting existing buildings.