Building on Brownfield land

6 October 2015

Developlment plans using Brownfield Sites

A brownfield site is a piece of land that has previously been developed, normally for industrial or commercial use.

With the current housing crisis these unused, and often ugly, pieces of land offer huge opportunities to developers or self-builders to redevelop the land to create one or more new home. 

Thinking of building on a brownfield site?

Rules and regulations regarding construction on brownfield sites is fast evolving, with the government implementing a scheme in which developers could get automatic planning permission for all suitable brownfield sites.

Before a home can be built, the health risks have to be assessed and mitigated, for example an analysis of the soil, groundwater and surface water through testing for hazardous compounds, and ensures that appropriate measures are taken before the site is redeveloped. If any levels of contamination has been identified then site restoration must take place. Then if the land is declared suitable any development plans must be made compliant with current regulations. 

Battersea’s Power Station is an excellent example of the feasibility for Brownfield Lands to be developed. The grade II listed former power station will see 42 acres of brownfield land transformed into homes, shops, cafes, offices and public space.

On a smaller residential scale brownfield land can prove rewarding, Marsworth Wharf has just been redeveloped which was originally a disused British Waterways site. The development includes 13 cleverly design homes maximising space and light. The main issue this project faced using a brownfield site was the water contamination concern with industrial size tank underneath the site, meaning the water source needed to be declared suitable before any redevelopment could get underway.

Building on brownfield sites comes with disadvantages such as the expense of building on land that needs to be tested and cleaned first. Additionally constraints may be faced because of the past use of the land. However, the benefits of buildings on pre-developed sites within a populated area cannot be overlooked especially if existing buildings are still there.

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