Brownfield Land

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What is brownfield land

Brownfield land is a term used for land that had a previous use.  Past governments promoted building on brownfield land as a way of preserving the nation’s open countryside and green belts. Indeed, many planning policies centred on a preference to grant permission to redevelop brownfield sites, some of which were previously used for heavy industry.

In 2008, 79% of all new homes were built on brownfield land.

Liverpool Victoria Insurance (now LV) claim that around 74,000 new homes have been built on brownfield land in the past decade that have been the subject of claims related to problems with the site and its previous usage.

Planning conditions

As part of the planning approval, there is normally a condition requiring the brownfield site to be analysed for contamination before being built on and any pollution discovered should be removed and taken away. Where there is a possibility of gas beneath the home the ground should also be sealed with a membrane.

Who is responsible for contamination

If contamination is subsequently found in homeowner’s gardens it can have serious financial consequences. The law makes the original polluter responsible to clean up any contamination. However, if that company has now gone out of business, the responsibility then rests with the current landowner, not the developer.

It can also mean that the homes can be blighted if contamination is discovered but not cleaned up, if the local council considers the level of contamination does not pose health risks.

In 2004 a block of flats in Invergordon Ross-Shire was demolished after Benzene was discovered on the site. Other hazardous materials found on brownfield land include: Lead, Mercury, Arsenic and the industrial solvent Trichloro-ethylene, which has been known to cause dizziness, nosebleeds and headaches.

Buying a new build home on a brownfield site requires additional care and where other options are available brownfield sites are best avoided altogether. Disadvantages of new homes