• Issue 48

  • Jun 2019

The Source

Land Use in England – Is Development Really Taking Over?

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government have released experimental statistics relating to land use in England. The release provides a snapshot of land use in 2017 and goes some way to highlighting that the vast majority of land in England remains undeveloped.

In England, 92% of the total land is non-developed, with a total of 8% split between developed land uses. Only 1% of the total land area of England is of residential use, with a further 5% of the total land being made up on residential gardens.

Of all measured developed land uses, transport and utilities make up approximately 4% of the full extent of land.

As would be expected there are significant variances in the total developed areas of all local authorities. The City of London unsurprisingly is the most developed local authority, with 85% of the total authority area being of developed used. Kensington and Chelsea and Islington follow, with 67% and 66% of the land within the authority boundaries being developed respectively. In contrast the local authority with the smallest proportion of land that is of developed use is Craven, North Yorkshire, with 98% of land in the authority being undeveloped.

The three biggest land uses in England are agriculture at 63%, forest, open land and water at 21% and residential gardens at 5%.

In April 2017, approximately 13% of England was designated as Green Belt. Broadly speaking the split between developed and non-developed land uses within the Green Belt reflects that for the country as a whole, with 8% of land within the Green Belt of a developed use. Of the total Green Belt land area for England, only 0.3% is of a residential use.

In a further statistical release, MHCLG data indicated that 53% of new residential addresses were formed on previously developed land. This represented a decrease of 3% when compared against 2016-2017 data. Development on agricultural land accounted for only 17% of all new addresses created between 2017-2018.

Further, the average density of residential developments decreased from 32 dwellings per hectare to 31 dwellings per hectare over the same timeframe, despite a move from central government to encourage developments of greater density.