Greenfield Development

What is Greenfield Development?

Greenfield development is a term often used for land that has not been used before for any human activity like agriculture or real estate development. Greenfield Land is generally land where there is no development of any kind. These open fields evolve on their own volition and are often sprawling expanses of land near cities and in the countryside. These lands which are not used for any purpose can be classified as Greenfield lands. Greenfield land is available in urban areas as well as rural areas. The land between towns and cities all over the world which is unused and characterized by grass, barren lands, and wild growth of vegetation and open fields is Greenfield land. This is the land on earth that is untouched by human beings and exists in its natural habitat.


Types of Greenfield Land

  • Greenfield Land is open fields which lie between cities and towns or in suburban areas. These are unfenced open fields which often have wild natural vegetation growing unchecked and as per the climate of the region. In dry areas, barren fields which are not used for construction or any agricultural activities are also called as Greenfield lands.
  • Restricted closed properties with no development often owned by the government are also Greenfield lands. Governments of most countries own vast areas of land in the country in the rural areas and the semi-urban and urban areas.
  • Private property with or without fencing is the land bought by the owner and not used for any purpose or kept for future use is also Greenfield land.

What is Greenfield Development?

As the name suggests, the prospect of developing a Greenfield land or land that has not been used before for various different types of projects is called Greenfield development. As cities and towns grow and the population of human beings grows all over the world, more and more Greenfield land is being used for development. A good example of Greenfield development is cities expanding. As the population of a city grows, new suburbs of the city emerge. These suburbs are established, as the periphery of the city limits is expanded. More and more Greenfield land on the outskirts of the city is used for development. Every time a new plot of land which was never used before is developed as the city expands, Greenfield development takes place. Greenfield development is an inevitable aspect of human civilization but there are also many critics of Greenfield development if it is not done in a sustainable way.

Related: The Great Town- Friedrich Engels | Summary, Garden City Movement

Categories of Greenfield Land

There are different types of Greenfield lands available to a potential developer. They can be categorized as follows:

  • Rural land with a very small population in neighboring areas and poor accessibility. There are very few livability factors available at these types of lands and generally, the value for the development of these properties is low.
  • Urban land that has previously not been used for any purpose. This type of land has high value to developers.
  • Semi-urban land on the outskirts of towns and cities which has a good accessibility and potential to develop.
  • Barren lands with few natural resources readily available like water and vegetation and difficult climatic condition.
  • Greenfield land which cannot be used because there are natural resources like forests, trees, lakes and other environmental factors that need to be conserved on the land.

Choosing a Greenfield Land for Development

There are many Greenfield sites around the world where there is no prior developmental activity that has taken place. Choosing a site for development is not an easy task. There are different types of projects that use Greenfield land for the projects. These include commercial real estate, housing, building plants and factories or manufacturing units or building government infrastructure or even just building a local park. Greenfield land is also used for solar panels, windmills, and other renewable energy projects. The following are some of the criteria that developers need to consider while choosing a Greenfield site:

  • Proximity to roads and transport facilities and also proximity to other developed areas like towns and cities.
  • Type of project is a very important aspect of choosing a Greenfield land. For example, a residential project needs land in and around the city whereas a factory can be a little away on the outskirts of a city.
  • Soil surveys, surveys of existing drainage and sewer facilities are important aspects of scoping out a land for future development. Without the knowledge of the type of soil and the type of land available on the property, buying the property for developmental purposes is not advisable.
  • There also has to survey regarding services available in the area like electricity, gas, telecom, water, and other services. Development is not possible without access to these services and so they are a factor while selecting a Greenfield development project land.
  • Before buying a Greenfield site necessary permissions need to be taken from local authorities to get the permission to develop a Greenfield site. Buyers need to check all the legalities regarding the land and check if there have not been any encroachments or any other claims on the property.
  • A site visit is an important aspect of buying the land. The land should be clear on any encroachment and also should not be contaminated in any way.

Sustainable Greenfield Development

Greenfield land

  • One of the main problems facing Greenfield development is environmental protection. Climate change and environmental destruction caused by human activity is a serious problem around the world today and a major concern in environmental education.
  • Many Greenfield land areas are protected all over the world by the government and developers do not get clearances or permissions to develop these lands for human consumptions.
  • Destruction of forest lands or destruction of natural habitats of wildlife and plants is restricted in many areas. There are designated wildlife lands where plant species and animal species have a protected habitat and this type of land cannot be used for Greenfield development. Also, various types of environmental pollution need to be taken care of.
  • Forest reserves, wildlife sanctuaries, city parks, national parks, water reserves, hills, mountains, forests, the land around rivers and lake areas are protected and these are not allowed for Greenfield development.
  • As environmental protection becomes more and more important every year, there are more and more Greenfield sites which are protected from environmental factors.
  • Sustainable Greenfield development is the development of land which is not in use without destruction of the natural habitat and environment of the region.

Greenfield Development – An Inevitable Choice

At the end of the day, as human beings enter a developed and modern age, more and more land which was previously a Greenfield land is going to be developed for consumption. Greenfield development is done in a range of different projects. Greenfield development as mentioned above is the development of a land which was previously never used. More often than not, once Greenfield development takes place, the land does not return to its original form anytime in the future. Greenfield development is done in a sustainable way in the 21st century in most areas as there are strict government rules as to how the land has to be developed. The government generally ensures the protection of the natural habitat of plants and animals and only gives permissions for Greenfield development after all the rules are properly followed by the developer.

Also Read: Land Use Planning in India, NIMBY