Campaigners are urging councils and government to consider building homes on brownfield sites first.

An analysis of councils’ Brownfield Land Registers by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) demonstrates the potential that building on derelict and vacant land has for the regeneration of towns, as well as the provision for new homes.

Brownfield land is land that has previously been built on, and now sits derelict or vacant.

As of December 2017, there were 47 brownfield sites in west Dorset giving a total of 30 hectares, which would provide a minimum housing capacity of 1,290. This includes the former Mountjoy site in Flood Lane, Bridport.

CPRE says that prioritising this land would not only help to transform run-down areas and provide more homes, but also prevent the loss of countryside and green spaces for housing.

In a recent article about housing targets, Peter Neal, chairman of trustees at Dorset CPRE, said: “There should be a brownfield first policy.

“Brownfield Sites Register across Dorset shows sites which could accommodate over 16,000 houses but only about a third of these have any applications on them.

“In west Dorset and Weymouth and Portland for example, there are over 2,600 such sites, hardly any of which appear in the revised local plan. However, even then these sites are not being brought forward as high priority. Why not?”

In order to make best use of suitable brownfield land, CPRE is urging the government to introduce a genuine ‘brownfield first’ policy, which ensures that suitable previously developed or under-used land is prioritised for redevelopment over green spaces and countryside.

Rebecca Pullinger, planning campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “Building on brownfield land presents a fantastic opportunity to simultaneously remove local eyesores and breathe new life into areas crying out for regeneration.

“It will help to limit the amount of countryside lost to development and build more homes in areas where people want to live, with infrastructure, amenities and services already in place.

“Councils have worked hard to identify space suitable for more than one million new homes. But until we have a brownfield first approach to development, and all types of previously developed land are considered, a large number of sites that could be transformed into desperately needed new homes will continue to be overlooked.

“The government, local councils and house builders must work hard to bring these sites forward for development and get building.”