The need for new housing in England has never been higher. Estimates of 232,000 to 300,000 new units per year are needed…two to three times more than are currently being supplied.

Inactivity during the last recession fuelled the failure of successive Governments to match housing demand with supply, now with rising life expectancy, immigration and demand for single occupancy households adding to the problem.

Another commonly cited reason for inadequate housing supply is the shortage of available land, putting pressure on Local Authorities to allow construction on our green spaces. Whilst it might seem the easy option, when you take into account the cost of securing the planning permission, the (inevitably) drawn out consultation process by an expensive team of experts and eye watering lawyers’ fees, brownfield doesn’t look so bad, and is a morally better solution!

The simple fact is that our industrial past has left behind huge swathes of contaminated land throughout the country, from redundant mills and factories to historic ports and outdated chemical works – and, unless we do something about it, this derelict land will remain unusable.

The good news is that cleaning up your contaminated site doesn’t have to cost the earth. It’s all about understanding the risks and taking the appropriate action.

For instance, the idea of not removing asbestos fibres present on site may appear inconceivable. However, with careful control, management and isolation there is no reason – in the right context and done in the correct way – why this shouldn’t be the case.

For a successful outcome, you need to plan your strategy early. Understand the issues of what can be treated and what needs to be dealt with differently, get the regulators on side, and make sure that the whole process can be checked and signed off to the satisfaction of all concerned. Simply put, this is your Remediation Action Plan.

The starting point is a very detailed analysis of the site and the contamination issues, using drawings, historical searches and intrusive investigations. From this you’re able to develop a detailed plan for decontaminating the site, fully supported by quantitative analysis, cost estimations and detailed risk profiles before you spend any real cash. Without this information you simply can’t understand how to efficiently achieve the result you want, or accurately calculate the value of your site.

Sounds easy, right?  Maybe, but it requires a comprehensive, integrated team approach, incorporating all construction, legal and regulatory requirements to avoid conflicting views and a weak plan…something that not everyone can do. A robust Remediation Action Plan will detail the hierarchy for site remediation options, which are likely to be one of the following:

  • On-site treatment of excavated material to either remove the contaminant or reduce the associated hazard to an acceptable level
  • Off-site treatment of excavated material to either remove the contaminant or reduce the associated hazard to an acceptable level, after which it can be returned to the site
  • Consolidation and isolation of the material on site by containment within a properly designed barrier
  • Removal of the contaminated material to an approved site or facility, followed where necessary by replacement with clean fill – being subject to UK land fill tax, this is the most expensive option.

If you come from a traditional background, this might sound like more work than you’re used to at this early stage, but then you’re going to benefit from a hugely increased site value with full support from regulators and residents alike. But remember what President John F. Kennedy said:

“There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”

Please don’t think that all remediation contractors are the same! They’re not…so call or message us to discuss how you can develop a robust Remediation Action Plan that adds value to your development planning process.