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This topic includes statistics on the changes between one land use and another, statistics on the stock and flow of previously-developed land and statistics on the extent of the Green Belt.


Five Year Land Supply for Housing
Department: Communities and Local Government
Five year land supply for housing as reported by Local Authorities from April 2009.
Generalised Land Use Database Statistics
Department: Communities and Local Government
Data on land use.
Housing and Planning Statistics
Department: Communities and Local Government
Compendium of housing and planning statistics covering most aspects of housing and planning in England
Land Use Change Statistics
Department: Communities and Local Government
LUCS provides statistics on: development on previously-developed land, the density of new dwellings, changes in the Green Belt, changes in areas of high flood risk, land changing to residential use and changes to developed uses.
Previously Developed Land that has been vacant for more than 5 years
Department: Communities and Local Government
Previously-developed land that was developed but is now vacant or derelict and has been so for more than 5 years.
Scottish Vacant and Derelict Land Survey
Department: Scottish Government
Total amount of vacant and derelict land in Scotland and land reclaimed for new uses since the previous survey.
Urban Audit
Department: Office for National Statistics
Compilation of variables collected for Urban Audit II, which focus on a wide range of topics. Covers data for 24 cities in the UK and is available for City, Sub-City District and Larger Urban Zone. Collected into a format consistent with the groupings used by ODPM for Core Cities Report. The groupings are: Social Cohesion, Urban Competitiveness, Urban Liveability, and Urban Governance.

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Land Use Changes

In 2009, on a provisional estimate, 80 per cent of new dwellings including conversions were built on previously-developed land, at a density of 43 dwellings per hectare. Around 2 per cent of new dwellings were built within the Green Belt and around 11 per cent of new dwellings were built in areas of high flood risk.

Previously-Developed Land

In 2007, there were an estimated 62,130 hectares of previously-developed land in England, of which an estimated 33,600 hectares of previously-developed land were vacant or derelict, 54 per cent of the total. The remaining 28,520 hectares were in use but with potential for redevelopment.

Green Belt

In 2009-10, the estimated designated Green Belt land was 1,639,560 hectares, about 13 per cent of the land area of England.  This figure shows a net decrease of 80 hectares when compared with the 2008-09 estimates. This is due to two authorities who adopted new plans which resulted in a real net decrease in the area of Green Belt.

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Technical Data

Land Use Changes

These statistics are based on changes in land use, recorded for Communities and Local Government, by Ordnance Survey (OS) during their map revision work since 1985. They relate to the new and previous uses of the land. The dataset for each year is, eventually, very comprehensive. However, there is a time-lag between a land use change occurring and it being recorded.

Therefore, figures are liable to revision. Because of this time-lag some series take longer to become robust than others, and so are not published as quickly. Therefore, statistics showing area (in hectares) are published later than the corresponding percentages, and regional figures are sometimes published later than the national total of the same series.

Local authority data are only published as a four-year average: at this level investigation has shown that annual figures are highly volatile and not robust.

When OS records a land-use change, the information provided includes:

  • the date of survey 

  • the grid reference 

  • the approximate area 

  • the new and previous use of the site in one of 24 land use categories 

  • the year change in use occurred 

  • the estimated number of dwelling units demolished and built

Previously-Developed Land

The estimates in this series are compiled from information on individual sites supplied by local authorities in England, and have been collected annually since 2001. They give a snapshot of the stock of previously-developed land that might be available for redevelopment as at 31 March each year, divided into vacant, derelict and in-use sites.

Authorities are asked to update information on sites provided previously and to provide details of new sites that might be newly available for redevelopment since their previous return. If the current year’s return is not available, previous returns are used.

Local authorities are generally not able to make separate reports on all of the previously-developed sites in their area. They are asked to estimate the percentage of the total area of each land type that is covered by their return of individual sites. These completeness percentages are used to provide the grossed national and regional estimates reported.

Green Belt

Communities and Local Government originally captured its own Green Belt data from local authority paper records. This activity was then outsourced to a private sector supplier. Considerable effort was required from departmental staff to quality assure the data provided by the supplier.

Given resource constraints and technological advancements by local authorities, many of whom are now able to produce digital data on the Green Belt, it was concluded that a more cost effective approach would be for Communities and Local Government to build, and subsequently maintain, a new Green Belt dataset from the newly available local authority digital data, therefore also improving quality assurance.

Areas of Green Belt are now derived from large-scale digitisation of Green Belt boundaries, depicted in local (or unitary) development plan maps of local authorities, in order to monitor the overall designation of Green Belt land through the planning system.

These are submitted to Communities and Local Government via its Housing and Planning Statistics electronic data collection system (Interform). Where area measurement using digital mapping technology has replaced traditional methods, there have been some revised estimates despite no changes in boundaries having occurred.

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  • Area of high flood risk

    Land assessed as having a 1 in 100 or greater annual probability of river flooding (greater than 1 per cent) or a 1 in 200 or greater annual probability of flooding from the sea (greater than 0.5 per cent) in any year.

  • Brownfield

    A loose term for previously-developed land.

  • Derelict land and buildings

    Land so damaged by previous industrial or other development that it is incapable of beneficial use without treatment. Treatment includes any of the following: demolition, clearing of fixed structures or foundations and levelling.

  • Land or buildings currently in use and allocated in the local plan and/or having planning permission

    Includes all sites, currently in use (with the addition of buildings that have been vacant for less than one year), allocated for development in the adopted plan or with outstanding planning permission where redevelopment has not started).

  • Land or buildings currently in use where it is known there is potential for redevelopment (but the sites do not have any plan allocation or planning permission)

    Includes all sites, currently in use (with the addition of buildings that have been vacant for less than one year), allocated for development in the adopted plan or with outstanding planning permission where redevelopment has not started.

  • Previously-developed land

    Previously-developed land is that which is, or was occupied by, a permanent structure, including the curtilage of the developed land and any associated fixed surface infrastructure.

  • Previously-developed land which is now vacant

    Land that was previously-developed and is now vacant which could be developed without treatment.

  • Vacant buildings

    Vacant buildings, unoccupied for one year or more, that are structurally sound and in a reasonable state of repair (that is, capable of being occupied in their present state).

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Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Department for Communities and Local Government

Email: planning.statistics@communities.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 303 44 42277


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