Link to poor health and brownfield land established

CL:AIRE have reported the findings of a new study by Durham University researchers into the health of people living in areas with brownfield land present.

The research found that people living near brownfield sites are significantly more likely to suffer from poor health than those living in areas with little or no brownfield land.  The findings suggest that the regeneration of brownfield land should be considered as a policy priority for Local Authority public health teams.

The research, the first to examine the link between brownfield land and health in England, shows that brownfield sites could be a potentially important and previously overlooked environmental influence on health.

Brownfield land is previously used or derelict land that may have real or perceived contamination problems and that requires intervention to bring it back into productive use.  The Homes and Communities Agency estimates that there is around 62,000 hectares of brownfield land in England alone.

The researchers found that local communities with large amounts of brownfield land in England had poorer health outcomes, including limiting long term illness.

While the hazardous effects of brownfield land with contaminants are well known, researchers suggest that, regardless of contamination, brownfield could have wider negative impacts on the general health of communities. They say further research is needed to find out which health effects play the greatest role.

The full article can be read here:  http://www.claire.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=954&Itemid=93

New Planning Practice Guidance Announced for England

The Government has announced the new planning practice guidance for England under a raft of announcements on planning policy.

Planning minister Nick Boles has announced cancellation of existing guidance and its replacement by the practice guidance which was the subject of consultation last autumn.  He also announced new arrangements for change of use in a variety of areas.

“Planning should not be the exclusive preserve of lawyers, developers or town hall officials,” he said.

It includes guidance on 41 areas including land affected by contamination, land stability, use of conditions, viability, housing and economic development needs and land availability, flood risk, EIA and town centres.
Mr Boles said changes to allow more flexible change of use for empty and underused buildings would support brownfield regeneration while having regard to potential flood risk.

The Government is, therefore, proceeding with allowing change of use of shops, financial and professional services to residential, but national parks AONBs, conservation areas and world heritage sites will be exempt.
Local authorities will be able to argue loss of a particular shop will have an impact on local services if they wish to refuse conversions.  Farm buildings up to 450m² may also now be converted to up to three houses and up to 500m² to schools or nurseries.