Sustainable homes and places

Sustainability and landbuying

The land we buy and develop is our most important asset. We take account of sustainability issues from the start of the land buying process, including biodiversity net gain, flood risk, proximity and access to infrastructure and services, sustainable transport, community wellbeing and local economic development. 

Our approach

Planning policy: We review each potential piece of land against the Government’s revised National Planning Policy Framework (and equivalents in Scotland and Wales), which aims to ensure that developments are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, and other guidance including the National Design Guide.

Our standards: Our internal processes and guidance documents help our teams identify and address relevant sustainability issues for each site. These include our Sustainable Development Checklist, Land Quality Assessment Process, our Land Assessment and Management Process (LAMP), our Approach to Sustainable Development, our Approach to Planning documents, biodiversity net gain guidance, our Home for Nature Toolkit, Guide to Green Infrastructure and Approach to Placemaking.

Training and guidance for our teams: We run briefings and training sessions for our land and planning teams on sustainability topics. In the last two years these have covered biodiversity net gain, climate change, nutrient neutrality, the National Design Guide and other topics.

Aligning to local planning policy: Many local development plans now include additional measures above national standards in relation to climate change, energy efficiency and biodiversity. We work closely with planning authorities to understand and integrate their requirements, and with landowners to ensure that constraints are reflected in land values.

Assessing environmental risks at site level: We use a digital platform for assessing and managing sustainability and technical risks associated with land, called LEADR (Land and Environment Assessment of Development Risk). This draws on external environmental databases to help us manage risks associated with land and environmental impacts, including remediation, flooding, biodiversity and archaeology. It includes a pre-acquisition screening and risk assessment process for potential new sites covering a range of sustainability issues. Risks during construction are managed through our environmental management system.

Greenfield and brownfield sites

We often transform previously developed, derelict or contaminated land (brownfield land) into new communities, which helps support urban redevelopment and regeneration. Around 17% of our homes in 2022 were built on brownfield land (2021: 21%) which includes infill sites.

Every site we develop – whether it’s a greenfield or previously developed site – is built to our environmental and placemaking standards, and comply with the UK’s environmental and planning regulations and additional social and environmental standards set by the local planning authority.

We aim to use land efficiently and to have regard to on-site constraints and prevailing planning policies. We estimate that densities on our suburban schemes range between 32 and 45 dwellings per hectare, with an average of 36 dwellings per hectare. City centre developments have a higher average density of around 200 or more dwellings per hectare.