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Brownfield Land - Sites

Brownfield land developmentBrownfield land development is not a reference to a location within the UK but a description used specific to previously developed land that may or may not have been contaminated. Today, you will find literally thousands of Brownfield sites that were previously used for industrial use. Because of this, these sites present dramatic risks to people's health, along with the environment.



Up to 1,000 homes are to be built on the brownfield development site located at the Cape Hill Brewery.

With the problem of these sites being so significant, the UK government has stepped in, initiating programs to help redevelop Brownfield sites, calling these cleaned up areas Greenfield sites. The program defined by the government is to take up to 60% of Brownfield sites and use them for new housing development. The goal is to eliminate stress on green belt areas of the country. One of the challenges with Brownfield land development is that the public has become very wary, meaning they understand the potential liabilities associated with building a new house on this type of land.


In February 1998, the Government announced a national target for England that at least 60% of new homes are to be built on previously developed (brownfield) land by 2008. This followed an earlier announcement that 4.4 million new households will be required in England by 2016, a figure that has subsequently been reduced to 3.8 million by 2021.

It is believed that Brownfield land development could be successful if waste and chemical risk is removed, making the land stable. Although new processes are being reviewed, the current steps involve redevelopment through a planning process for both environmental and economic relief and growth. If you have considered Brownfield land development, we strongly recommend that before you get too far into the process, you conduct an independent study or investigation. This investigation should include the history of the land, groundwater testing, subsurface soil testing, and so on.

Without having the bottom line information, the true human and environmental risks associated with Brownfield land development would remain hidden. Now, by understanding the risks being faced, you then have the opportunity to take the appropriate steps in getting the land cleaned. A qualified, risk management consultant can conduct these studies for you, identifying associated risks as well as provide viable solutions that would adhere to regulatory requirements. The result is the Brownfield land can be treated so a home could be built but without future risks.

The Government's town planning policies, especially those relating to new housing development, focus on reusing land that has been 'previously developed'. Often referred to as 'brownfields', returning this land and redundant buildings to economic use is more complex than developing on former agricultural, or 'greenfield', sites.

If you are a land developer who owns a Brownfield site and you want to sell, then again, you would need to work with a reputable risk management consultant who can do a thorough investigation of the site, telling you the proper steps to be taken so the site can be used for Brownfield land development. The key here is to use a consultant who will lay it all out as far as the problems. The last thing you want is to put the land on the market, only for new owners to discover something horrific after the purchase. With this, you could be set up for huge legal problems.


"We're using old industrial assets - our canals, mills, factories, warehouses - once left to rot - now brought back to life. Providing new workspaces, new communities, and all on brownfield sites so that we've met our 60 per cent target for all new homes on brownfield land - eight years early."

Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, September 29, 2003

The bottom line is that with Brownfield land development, everyone needs to be honest from the get go. After all, the goal is for new landowners to buy property that is a safe place to build a home without worrying about "what's in the soil". You have the environment to consider as well. The number of houses being developed in the UK has skyrocketed with projections climbing even further. Unless Brownfield land development is taken seriously, going through a thorough clean-up process to make the land safe, there will soon be a shortage of land. In fact, estimates now say that approximately 4.5 million new households will be needed in England only by 2016.

Often time, a Brownfield site is in a good location and the land itself in good condition. However, because of chemical and waste from the previous, industrial owner, the land must be redeveloped. Most Brownfield sites are places where old factories once stood strong and powerful but today, have faded away. With contaminants such as mercury and lead, both being a serious risk, the Brownfield land development is an excellent solution that can turn unsafe and unused land into a Mecca for homeowners that is safe and beautiful.

-  James M

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