The Government may be celebrating its success in achieving its targets to develop 60 per cent of new homes on brownfield land by 2008, but it appears that term is still viewed with suspicion.
Does brownfield land mean an end to our large suburban gardens, or present risk of hidden costs and contamination in our urban areas?
David Fenton, head of residential development at Knight Frank's Birmingham office, says: "Brownfield land is going to be essential to the residential market over the coming years and recently this has been reflected in the government policy.
"The Government has set ambitious targets to build 420,000 new homes in the West Midlands over the next 20 years and if we cannot be more strategic in our use of brownfield sites then this will inevitably eat into the countryside and greenbelt areas. The redevelopment of brownfield land is also crucial to urban regeneration.
"A lot of brownfield sites are derelict or disused land, and this acts as a blight on both the landscape and the community, as well as detracting inward investment by creating a negative image of the area.
"Indeed, this is a particularly crucial issue for Birmingham, whose rich industrial legacy means that brownfield sites make up a large proportion of our developable land...
"Despite the importance of these sites, there is still a lot of confusion surrounding the term 'brownfield'.
"Put simply, a brownfield site is land which has previously been developed, but which is no longer in use for that purpose. The problem is that most people only hear about brownfield land has through media coverage, which has generally focused on two controversial types of brownfield sites, contaminated land and back gardens.
"Contaminated land has worried developers because of the costs of cleaning the site so that it is fit for use, and has also worried communities because of the potential health risks of chemicals or infected water supplies.
"Meanwhile, since John Prescott announced in 1999 that all back gardens were to be classified as brownfield land, there have been concerns that house builders will aim to meet government targets by backyard developments rather than rescuing derelict sites, as the land is cheaper to develop and often located in desirable suburbs.
"With these problems and controversies in mind, how is our region going to utilise the full potential of our brownfield land while at the same time avoiding the possible pitfalls?
"Since April 2007, the Government has granted councils new powers to prevent so called 'garden grabbing', allowing local planning authorities to specify different targets for different kinds of brownfield land. This enabled the local authorities to restrict development on residential sites if they have alternative viable land available.
"Recently, Birmingham City Council responded by publishing Guidelines to Control Residential Intensification in the Mature Suburbs, which clearly sets out acceptable levels of house building in areas such as Edgbaston and Moseley and requires developers to specify how new buildings will blend with the character of the area.
"While this is a positive step forward, it risks vilifying house builders, failing to acknowledge they are instrumental in shaping the city and creating our future homes. The bottom line is that they cannot take on sites if the cost of remediation renders the development of a site commercially unviable.
"The Government has begun to recognise this. In the 2008 Budget, Alistair Darling announced that legislation will be introduced to extend land remediation relief to expenditure on derelict land from April 1, 2009.
"It is also important to remember that the methods of studying contaminated land have become more precise, and techniques used to clean distressed sites are more sophisticated. With these positive developments, we can overcome the negative associations of brownfield land, and our government and local councils can devise innovative strategies to take forward this important investment in our future.
"We only need to look around us to see the benefits that this can bring. Anyone who has worked in the city for the past five years can testify to the way in which Crest Nicholson's Park Centralhas transformed the formerly rundown Lee Bank area into one of the city's most desirable places to live.
"The 61-acre development is only halfway through its build program and has already created a whole new community with apartments, townhouses and split-level penthouses, and an astonishing eight acres of landscaped parkland.
"Meanwhile, Masshousehas played a famous role in kick-starting the regeneration of Eastside which has now become a sought-after development hotspot and created a new gateway to the city centre.
"David McClean's flagship £350 million scheme was built on the site of the demolished Masshouse Circus Roundabout, and in the place of this run-down concrete elevation, it has created tree-lined boulevards and contemporary apartments with a sought after city postcode.
"These are the kind of innovative schemes that will allow Birmingham to be reborn as a globally competitive, cosmpolitan city and are the reasons why we should unite to get the best from our brownfield land."