Why site sharing could be the key to freeing up the UK’s brownfield land

Top land broker puts forward an innovative solution for increasing supply...

We could significantly boost the amount of brownfield land available in the UK’s towns and villages if planners, architects and builders put similar companies and organisations together on the same site, argues Charles Hesse

Brownfield sites are the holy grail of new-build construction. Their accessible and central locations make them highly desirable, but they are often in short supply because established businesses or organisations are already using them. What we’re proposing is putting several similar organisations under one roof to share resources, increase efficiency, and open-up their old sites for essential residential building in the heart of towns and villages.

Take the emergency services, for example. Towns often have a separate fire station, police station and ambulance station. Not only would these groups work more effectively if they were on the same site, but there would be operational cost savings too, as well as easier departure points on the outskirts of town for fire engines, police vehicles and ambulances.

Similarly, why shouldn’t a doctor’s surgery be positioned on the ground floor of a building, with retirement flats above it? The residents could use a lift to get to and from their apartments, and a care home could be built alongside. That way, the surgery would be based in the heart of the community amongst those who would use it most often.

The same is true of schools. Even if it means building several storeys, infant and junior schools could work from the same building (with the infants on the ground floor), sharing their use of playgrounds and playing fields outside.

We can build our way to a better environment

But most importantly, after the previously separate groups have been brought together, their old, redundant sites could then be used for more housing. These areas would be perfectly placed for the new residents to be within walking distance of the local facilities, as well as often being more attractive than the buildings which were there previously.

Such an approach takes creative, lateral thinking. But we don’t always have to work with the buildings we already have. We can build our way to a better environment – freeing up Brownfield sites for much-needed housing – to create something that works for businesses, organisations and residents alike.

Charles Hesse is Aston Mead’s Land & Planning Director


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