A former planning minister has called for greenfield developers to show they had already built on recycled land before being given permission. Tim Yeo, a Tory planning minister in the Nineties, said this could be matched so an application for a 50,000 sq ft office block would depend on a similar one on a brownfield site. ‘This would guarantee that half of all new development would take place on previously developed land,’ he told the British Council for Offices annual conference in Edinburgh. These rights could be tradeable, so anyone who had developed on brown land could sell the rights.
This is much like the way carbon emission trading has been set up among industries. In fact, Yeo believes the slow progress in getting individuals to save energy could be boosted if they were also allowed to trade savings each made in emissions. The market in development rights would cut costs and could be tweaked to suite different regions, raising the bar to perhaps two-thirds where there was extra pressure on green land. It would particularly suite housing development, said Yeo.