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Idea 16 Brownfield vs Greenfield sites

Brownfield vs Greenfield sites

This project idea was contributed by Mark Bamford

Exam Board Components that this project links with
AQA A Unit 2, Section A: Changing Urban and Rural Environments
AQA B Unit 1, Section B: The Urban Environment
Edexcel A Unit 1, Section A: Geographical Skills
Unit 3, Section A: Settlement Change
Edexcel B Unit 2, Section B: Changing Cities / Countryside
OCR A Unit A673: Your place
Unit A674: The challenge of planning
OCR B Theme 2: Population and Settlement
WJEC B Theme 1: Challenges of Living in a Built Environment – Planning Issues in Urban and Rural Environments.


This activity is designed to enable students to understand the issues involved in the selection of Greenfield and Brownfield sites for new developments. It will take a number of lessons to complete. The example is based on Waterlooville and Hornsea Island near Portsmouth in Hampshire. The new ‘West of Waterlooville’ development, where in the region of 2000 new homes are to be constructed, will have a profound effect on the surrounding area. The activities here could easily be applied to other examples as the issues involved are found nationwide.

Key Geography Objectives

  • For students to understand the issues involved in the selection of Greenfield or Brownfield sites and to apply their knowledge in a local context
  • To improve their group working skills
  • To improve their skills in interpreting OS maps

Key ICT Objectives

  • The use of online mapping websites
  • The use of Microsoft Excel to produce a variety of graphs
  • The use of Windows Movie Maker to create video presentations
  • The use of interactive whiteboards to make annotations

Running the Activity

1. Share the learning objectives with the group

2. Introduce the terms ‘Greenfield site’ and ‘Brownfield site’ with slide four of the PowerPoint. It is assumed that these definitions would be written down by the students.

3. Get students to complete the worksheet ‘Brownfield vs Greenfield Sites: What are the issues involved?’ which you can download below, in which they separate the issues surrounding the two kinds of site into positives and negatives. Then discuss using slide 4 of the PowerPoint.

4. Introduce the need for housing in the local area and provide the students with the worksheet ‘Where would be the best site for new housing in our local area?’ which you can download below. Or, use a modified version that is relevant to your local area.

5. Get students to examine the possible sites for development with an online mapping site such as Microsoft Live Maps or Google Earth. More advanced ICT users could use Memory Map software to identify the sites and use the ‘draw track’ function to see just how far the potential sites are away from the school. Tracks could also be drawn in advance so that the route to school from the two sites could be plotted along the main roads. The intention being that some of the students would realise that in fact they should be bothered by the developments. 3D views could also be used to discuss the characteristics of the sites.

6. Students then use OS maps to complete the analysis of the two sites and a third of their own choosing by completing the scoring of the table on the worksheet. The students would then be required to graph their data. Students could use Microsoft Excel to complete the table and produce a graph of their choice. More advanced ICT users might explore the functions of Excel to produce a variety of graphs and add things such as more advanced labels, change the scales etc.

7. Students would next be put into groups. You could perhaps reserve groups five and six for the gifted and talented students where each would have to argue the case for the site which they would choose. The other students would benefit from the structure of using the provided ‘set’ sites.

8. The students would then produce a presentation to promote their site. The students could use PowerPoint for this, and they would likely have the skills to do this. If the chosen example sites are local, a bank of resources could be made available on the school network which would include maps and photos. More advanced ICT users might want to supplement the PowerPoint presentations. The final two slides of the teacher PowerPoint have OS maps of the sample site locations and have blank areas around them to allow the students to annotate them using an interactive whiteboard. Another option would be to allow the students to use Windows Movie Maker to produce their presentation. Further guidance on how to do this is provided in the document ‘How to Use Windows Movie Maker’ which you can download below.

PowerPoint presentation to accompany activity

More information about Waterlooville

Brownfield vs Greenfield Sites: What are the issues involved?

Where would be the best site for new housing in our local area?

How to Use Windows Movie Maker

Further Ideas

  • In depth case study of a local example. In this case a further PowerPoint is provided to provide details of what is planned.
  • Fieldwork opportunities. Students could go to the local settlement (in this case Waterlooville) and conduct questionnaires, traffic counts, pedestrian counts, and use Microsoft Excel to plot the results.
  • Those with more advanced ICT skills could plot the data discussed in the previous point using GIS software such as AEGIS 3.


West of Waterlooville Blog – This blog is maintained by Jacky Wilson, the West of Waterloovile Implementation Officer. It is a regular ‘newsletter’ about what is happening in and around the site.

Lovely Waterlooville Blog – For a different perspective see this this blog written by a local resident who is fiercely against the development.

Winchester City Council

Havant Borough Council

Photo Credits

Fig 1: Illustrative masterplan of the ‘West of Waterlooville’ development, used with kind permission by Winchester City Council.

Fig 2: Image of a protected tree in the area of the new ‘West of Waterville’ development. Used with kind permission of Jacky Wilson of Winchester City Council.

Fig 3: Derelict building. Used with kind permission of Flickr user Denis Defreyne and is used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licence. You may reuse this image under the conditions specified in this licence. Source.

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