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New Brownfield site database fails to impress

A new online tool, which lists more than 2,200 developable brownfield sites across London, has been met with a muted response from architects

At the launch today (Thursday), the London Development Agency (LDA) and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) hailed the web-based ‘pilot project’ as the ‘country’s most comprehensive database of land available for redevelopment’.

Peter Bishop, the LDA’s group director of design development and environment, added: ‘The tool provides a very efficient means of accessing information, and significantly builds the level of regional intelligence on previously developed land.’

However, some practices have been unimpressed by the launch of the tool, www.londonbrownfieldsites.org, which claims to provide site information on more than 2 per cent of land in Greater London.

Stephen Davy, of Davy Smith Architects, said: ‘It is not clear how this database will be of assistance to architects. The information seems to be a bit hit and miss as many of the identified sites are well known to those who regularly work in a particular area, some with planning refusals and major issues associated with development.’

Meanwhile, Jeremy Young, a director at Featherstone Young (formerly Featherstone Associates) believes more needs to be done than to merely identify plots.

He said: ‘This is a positive move but one that needs to be backed up with a proactive approach by government to coordinate the various organisations involved. Basically someone has to bang heads together to get things moving and help manage all the stakeholders, who often have contradictory requirements.’

However, Tarek Merlin, a director at Feix&Merlin Architects, said: ‘This should be a great tool for developers and will speed up the gap between finding the site and finding the right architect. It might even be useful for those architects among us who don’t mind a bit of archi-preneurial ship – we would love to find a little site and develop it ourselves.’

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