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Brownfield sites review, London

Study and database for identifying sites and evaluating potential uses

Arup was jointly commissioned by the UK's Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and London Development Agency (LDA) to create an action plan, build a database of brownfield sites and produce a best practice guide.

Stage one of the London Brownfield Sites Review identified a number of shortcomings in current knowledge of brownfield sites in London, including low return levels by Boroughs to the National Land Use Database (NLUD) and variable quality of site intelligence.

The HCA acknowledged that the NLUD database could be developed further to allow more detailed analysis at a spatial level as well as enabling boroughs to update and amend site information more easily.

Stage two of the review focused on identifying sites and gathering increased and more accurate information on sites. Arup ensured that the intelligence gathered was compatible with forthcoming policy work by Boroughs and across the Greater London family (the LDA, the Greater London Authority and the Government Office for London).

Arup developed the new database in collaboration with Rade New Media. In conjunction with the HCA, the firm then identified brownfield sites that due to their characteristics and spatial context are most likely to be suitable for development (those accessible by public transport and not in flood-prone areas for example). Local Planning Authorities and policy makers can also use the database when developing policy and generating appropriate mapping.

Creating a database and website that fulfilled the brief was a significant task. The study set the benchmark within the development community for offering a sophisticated but accessible means of identifying sites for potential reuse, assessing viability of end uses and engaging with policy makers to bring these sites forward.

The project was a winner in the E-Government category of the Royal Town Planning Institute Awards 2009.