COUNTRYSIDE campaigners say that a brownfield-first policy could save Wiltshire’s green spaces.

CPRE Wiltshire has said that a policy to build on brownfield sites would protect greenfields from unwanted developments and regenerate towns like Swindon, Chippenham and Trowbridge.

Figures from Wiltshire Council show 26 additional brownfield sites available for development, compared to the previous year and 94 in total.

CPRE says development on brownfield sites ensures that infrastructure, such as public transport, is already in place and would have a knock-on impact on car use.

It says such a policy should also ensure all new developments include affordable housing – including help to buy properties.

READ MORE: Council-owned company submits plans for 48 houses on former day care centre site

Anne Henshaw, chairman of CPRE Wiltshire said: “Developing brownfield sites for housing is a win-win solution that holds back the tide of new buildings on pristine countryside whilst at the same time aiding urban regeneration – maintaining the central hubs of commerce and activity.

“In Wiltshire we have seen plans such as those for Swindon, Chippenham and Trowbridge where, instead of looking at the wealth of opportunities which the regeneration of brownfield areas could bring, we have beautiful countryside threatened.

“It is therefore heartening to hear that the government increasingly appears to share these views. 

“Recent warm words on developing brownfield land first and enabling communities to push back on any plans to build in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are to be applauded.”

The group claims that despite the boom in such sites that there’s a long-term trend of increased use of greenfield sites for development.

READ MORE: Covid test van hits the road

A spokesman for the group said: “The proportion of brownfield housing units with planning permission is the lowest since records began – down to 44 per cent in 2021 from 53 per cent in 2020 – and the actual number, at 506,000, is the lowest for four years.”

CPRE is also encouraging locals to use a toolkit to survey potential brownfield sites in their towns and larger villages.

“New government guidance has widened the scope for searches and now includes assessing underused spaces such as car parks, vacant areas on industrial sites and better use of town centre retail and office space,” continued Anne Henshaw.

“We are calling on local people who care about our county and preserving these beautiful areas which, once gone, cannot be restored, to take part.”

Cabinet member for development management, Nick Botterill, said: “Our Local Plan, the Wiltshire Core Strategy, contains policies to support and encourage the regeneration of brownfield sites within our towns and villages.

READ MORE: Plans for a home extension refused

“Unfortunately it is not possible to meet all the needs of our growing communities on brownfield land alone, and we do also need to consider the use of greenfield. As part of the forthcoming local plan review, we are keen to ensure that our policies continue to support the regeneration of such sites to minimise the use of greenfield land.

“Local communities, through Parish and Town Councils, also have the ability to consider the potential to redevelop brownfield sites and positively plan for these through the preparation of their own neighbourhood plans.”