GMSF FAQs: Brownfield Land

What is meant by “greenfield” or “brownfield”?

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Brownfield land is or has been occupied by a permanent or fixed surface structure, for example a house or an office block. Brownfield land does not include residential gardens, parks, allotments or previously developed land where the remains of a permanent structure have been blended in to the landscape.

Greenfield sites are undeveloped green spaces found in both urban and rural areas and not always within the Green Belt.

How much brownfield land is there in Trafford?

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The supply of housing and employment sites identified in the GMSF is made up of a mixture of both greenfield and brownfield sites. We maintain a Brownfield Land Register in Trafford that provides up-to-date, consistent information on brownfield land that would be appropriate for residential development.

Existing baseline supplies identify sites that are under construction, sites with planning permission and other land that has previously been considered suitable for housing and employment uses. The following percentages of Trafford’s existing land supplies are on wholly brownfield land:

  • 72% of new office floorspace
  • 98% of new industrial and warehousing floorspace
  • 63% of new dwellings

The following table sets out the Trafford land supply for the plan period 2018-2037. An allowance has been made for completions on small sites from 2023 onwards. Please see the Housing Topic Paper on the GMCA website for further information relating to the use of allowances in calculating our housing supply

Existing baseline supply
    Existing basline supply
 BrownfieldGreenfield Mix Brownfield/Greenfield 
(sq metres)
 155,661 60,000 
Industry and Warehousing (sq metres)  675,626 12,040   0
(new homes)
 8,377  3,653  897

What is meant by the “baseline supply”?

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The baseline supply is the supply which is already identified across Greater Manchester by each of the ten districts. The baseline supply is made up of all sites which are currently under construction, sites with approved planning permission and other identified sites that are not reliant on the allocations identified in the GMSF. The baseline supply typically looks ahead to the next 15 years.

How are we making the most of our brownfield sites first?

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We have undertaken a thorough assessment of our brownfield sites to ensure they are being used to their full potential.

We’re taking a “brownfield preference” approach to development, making the most of the brownfield (previously developed) land that we have available. Initiatives such as the Mayor’s Town Centre Challenge are helping to make sure that our proud town centres are being revitalised to create thriving, vibrant communities in well-connected places where people want to live.

The Combined Authority’s ‘One Public Estate’ programme is exploring whether various public sector organisation estates – facilities, space and buildings – could be better shared, perhaps co-locating or sharing some public services across Greater Manchester in order to free up more land for homes.

To help alleviate the demand on our greenfield sites and improve the viability of brownfield development, we are negotiating a “housing package” with central government. This includes a £50m land fund to help bring forward brownfield sites to deliver housing, improved flexibility in how we manage our £300m housing investment loan fund, and £8m to support Greater Manchester’s districts and the Combined Authority in doing the work needed to unlock housing sites. At time of writing (December 2018), these negotiations are still ongoing.

National Planning Policy does not support an explicit “brownfield first” approach. Trafford is required to be able to provide a five year supply of housing sites that are available and deliverable for residential development. If a five year supply of land cannot be identified then we must apply a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” which can include development on sites that may be greenfield, Green Belt or other safeguarded land.

What has changed since the 2016 draft in relation to brownfield land?

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The 2019 Revised Draft GMSF further supports the regeneration of our town centres, particularly as a focus for residential development. In November 2017 the Mayor launched the Town Centre Challenge; an ambitious new initiative designed to regenerate town centres and help meet the demand for housing.

Brownfield Land Registers (see 2 above) were published by all districts in 2017, these were updated in 2018. A full, updated land supply has also been published with a base date of March 2018. The majority of land identified for the 2018-2037 plan period is on land in the urban area, most of which is brownfield land.

Policies in the 2019 Revised Draft make the most of brownfield land and build at higher densities in the most accessible locations to reduce the amount of land required for new development.