Help us identify brownfield sites for new homes

24th Jul 2014

CPRE and other countryside campaigners are calling on the public to identify thousands of empty sites in villages, towns and cities that could be suitable for new homes.

The new digital campaign, #WasteOfSpace, launches today and will run for six months. To take part, people are asked to nominate a brownfield site in their local area - for example an empty shop, disused post office, or abandoned factory - by tweeting or emailing photos which will be added to an interactive map online.

A CPRE report earlier this year found that the Government’s planning reforms are unnecessarily damaging the countryside and failing to prioritise the reuse of brownfield land and regeneration of urban areas. The report also revealed that only a quarter of local authorities propose to prioritise brownfield sites over greenfield because national planning policy does not give enough support for them to do so.

The Government has since introduced incentives for developers to build 200,000 homes on brownfield land by 2020 but CPRE says this woefully underestimates the amount of land available and there are thousands of more sites that should be unlocked before releasing more greenfield land.

So we are now asking the public to help it pinpoint the location of brownfield sites across England to create a live map for politicians and developers to identify sites and exceed their targets.  This information will inform research that CPRE has commissioned to assess the number of vacant sites and encourage the Government to grow its ambition.

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “We want to find out how much brownfield land is actually available and suitable for much needed new housing. At the last count, there was enough in England to accommodate at least 1.5 million homes, so we believe the latest 200,000 target is grossly unambitious. With so much wasted space available it is nonsensical that 700,000 new homes are currently planned for our open countryside, 200,000 of which are in the Green Belt.

“England is an ever more crowded country so let’s use our land wisely, for people and nature. Using brownfield land and empty buildings is a win-win making our towns more valuable and saving our precious countryside.”
In response to the campaign, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles, said: "In the last four years we have done everything we can to get this country building more homes, while keeping our focus firmly set on protecting our countryside and making the best possible use of brownfield land.

“We’ve already made it easier for existing buildings to be converted into homes, and made sure councils can set locally appropriate targets for using brownfield land. 

"We have a comprehensive programme to bring empty homes back into use, we are selling redundant government property, and have changed the rules to provide a greater incentive to use brownfield land.

“We have also increased transparency by opening up the books of councils so that people can see the value of the land councils hold and can challenge them to release brownfield sites suitable for development. That’s why I encourage people to get involved in this campaign and nominate brownfield land that can be unlocked in their area.”


To nominate a brownfield site and add it to CPRE’s ‘WasteOfSpace’ map of England, people are asked to send an image of the site (as simple as a quick snap on a smartphone) and an address of the site - either a postcode or rough street address. Send the image by:

  • emailing
  • tweeting @CPRE with the campaign hashtag #WasteOfSpace
  • posting to the Facebook group #WasteOfSpace

Please help us by nominating brownfield sites in your area that could be suitable for housing development in the future.

Visit the webpage for more information: