Do you know your brownfield sites from your greenfield sites?

House Building is hitting the headlines as all political parties agree that we face a major housing shortage in the UK.

The Telegraph recently reported that House Building is now at its slowest rate since the 1926 General Strike.

A dysfunctional housing market such as this pushes house prices upwards and whilst homeowners may be rubbing their hands, First Time Buyers are being increasingly priced out.

Each party has its own way of tackling the housing crisis however the Conservatives idea of utilising brownfield sites really caught our eye.

They are looking to give a 20% discount on a property purchase in these developments by lowering the regulation costs and making it easier to secure a brownfield site for development.

What are brownfields?

Here’s where my Geography degree can finally be of use!

A brownfield site is a site which has already been used for something else. 

They are generally within a city or town and may have had a factory, warehouses, offices or some sort of development on them already.

Brownfield sites can be much more costly to develop as the builder not only has the cost of the build to consider but also needs to demolish whatever is standing on the site and make the ground good for development.

Because of the nature of a brownfield site, these often contain contaminated land.

Contaminated by what you may ask? Well, think about this, much of the Bristol docks are now developed and we have lovely areas containing flats, offices and retail however, much of this land was previously the main port of Bristol and Victorian warehouses and factories lined the river.

When developing these into the area we have now, the developers not only needed to demolish or renovate the buildings but also needed to replace topsoil and ensure that any land contaminated with substances such as arsenic, lead or other heavy metals were made safe.

Often the developer will need to strip the topsoil out of the site and replace it with fresh, clean soil.

If you purchase a property in a brownfield development you may have a clause in your contract asking you not to dig deep holes in the garden as this could expose the contaminated land again.

All this extra work can constitute a big factor when developers are costing up a site.

We love the idea of encouraging brownfield development.

It’s helping to tidy up our cities and means we do not have to build on fields and open space.

Reusing existing land which has previously been developed is vital to our country as these sites tend to be in the middle of town (where people actually want to live) and less infrastructure such as roads and other facilities need to be put in place around them as it is general already there. 

The idea that councils will be forced to help find brownfield sites for developers is great and as brownfield developments tend to be smaller scale because of the size of the plot available, this also encourages smaller builders to get building again.

Fox Davidson arrange property development finance as well as mortgages for new build property so whatever your mortgage requirements are, get in touch.