National Land Use Database shows that housebuilders have failed to make most of derelict sites

Housing redevelopment has barely made a dent on the brownfield land stock in the five years since the government launched its drive to regenerate England’s town and cities, according to official figures.

The National Land Use Database, published this week, shows that the amount of “previously developed land” that can be re-used for housing is 1% lower than in 2001, the first year after the publication of the government’s urban white paper.

Its definition of “previously developed land”, includes many sites that are still in use but which are likely to come up for redevelopment soon.

The database, published by the DCLG, applies just to England.

The figures show that more than half of the 27,600 ha of the potentially suitable brownfield land, which the government claims could accommodate nearly a million homes, is not available for redevelopment in the short term because it is in use. In the South-east, where the government estimates that 10,100 ha of land could deliver 160,000 homes, 6500 ha are in use.

Many brownfield sites cannot be used for housing because they are contaminated or are in the wrong place. Only 15% of previously developed land total is earmarked for housing by planners.

The government’s 60% target for housing being built on brownfield land should be a lot higher

Chris Brown, Igloo regeneration fund

Chris Brown, chief executive of the Igloo Regeneration Fund, said the figures showed that the government ought to increase the 60% target for housing on brownfield land. He noted: “The percentage of housing being built on brownfield land should be a lot higher.”

Across England, the database shows that there was 63,500 ha of previously developed land in 2005, compared with 64,100 ha in 2004.

Since 2001, when the first survey was carried out, the amount of previously developed land has dropped 3%. This figure for total brownfield land is greater than the 1% figure previously referred to because it includes many sites that are not suitable for housebuilding.

Of the overall total of 63,500 ha, only 58% is available for immediate redevelopment.

The biggest concentration of brownfield sites that can be potentially developed is in north-west England, which contains four housing low demand areas. The amount of vacant and derelict land in London fell 30%, the biggest drop in the country.

• The number of approved mortgages grew to 120,000, the highest since the start of the year according to statistics from Bank of England. The money lent on new mortgages was £9.8bn.