‘It’s Our Cornwall’ examines one of the big myths in Cornwall – the brownfield myth.
Finally, we have a potential developers’ scam that many, otherwise sensible, souls seem to be all too easily suckered into. Let’s build all these houses on brownfield land rather than green fields, they tell us. This is as bad as the other redefinitions.
Brownfield land conjures up images of derelict factory sites, rusting warehouses or demolished housing. But in practice it merely means any site that has been at some point developed, excluding farm buildings. It may or may not be contaminated. It may or may not still have buildings on it. The planning definition is in fact rather loose.
In Cornwall, blanket calls to build only on brownfield land are short-sighted. We don’t have a large area of genuinely derelict industrial sites. But we do have lots of sites where mining and other industrial activity last took place decades ago, even a century or more ago. These are often contaminated or contain shafts or other hazards and can therefore still be defined as brownfield land. Yet to the untrained eye they now look like green fields.
So what should be classed as brownfield?
An area of land which has been developed and is clearly brownfield. For example – an old factory site, derelict housing etc.
Brownfield would also include a developed site which is being re-developed although the buildings are not derelict. In essence this is redevelopment of an existing site.
What should not count as brownfield?
Land developed in the past but where there are no or few visible signs of past development. For example – an area of land where mining took place in the past but which has re-vegetated and is in essence green.
Areas of land which are green, although not in agricultural use, and are within an area which includes brownfield land. A good example would be a former school site which includes: the old school buildings – which are brownfield; and playing fields and open space which are greenfield. Small sites, for example where a house is being replaced by new housing which results in the loss of the green area within the curtilage of the property, should perhaps be referred to as mixed sites. Although the amount of green space lost within the site is small the overall effect of such developments is a loss of green areas.
Any area of land which is