Creating ‘oven-ready’ sites can unlock the value in council land assets
23 May 2017
Last year the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) announced its findings from the councils in the government’s brownfield register pilot scheme and discovered that more than 270,000 homes could be built on previously developed land across the country.
The government’s One Public Estate programme was created with the aim to rationalise and release thousands of acres of public sector land in order to build a further 25,000 homes, assisting with the county’s housing crisis and cut council running costs by approximately £98 million. It was revealed recently that over three-quarters of all English councils have already signed up to the scheme, so what does this mean for the land remediation industry?
In order to speed up the process in which new homes are created and also maximise the value of the land assets, it is recommended that councils create ‘oven-ready’ sites. An ‘oven-ready’ site is one that has already been pre-prepared and packaged for construction and therefore are more likely to take the interest of developers looking to buy brownfield land from local authorities. For brownfield sites of this type, it would mean offering land for sale which has had contaminants already removed and has achieved outline planning permission, allowing developers to get their homes built and put up for sale more quickly.
Local authorities may come across a number of obstacles when developing brownfield sites. Most significantly when assessing the costs associated with remediating previously developed land assets. Challenges lie in local authorities having a limited understanding of individual land values and the scale of remediation work required on multiple sites in their portfolio. However if they seek the right help, councils should view this as an opportunity to recover as much value from the land as possible.
As a leading contaminated land and remediation contractor we can provide integrated strategies to help local authorities assess and evaluate their landbanks, as well as helping them navigate the planning conditions attached to contaminated brownfield land. Over the past 30 years, we have tackled diverse array of brownfield land, having worked for numerous housing developers including Strata Homes and Keepmoat. Our considerable land remediation experience can significantly reduce the costs councils face and therefore help to increase the feasibility of residential construction.
By carrying out a detailed upfront site investigation VHE can determine both the value and any potential liabilities, such as ground contamination and flood risk, in local authority land. By presenting the value against the potential liabilities we are able to help councils identity the most suitable and economical development projects from their land portfolio, therefore allowing them to priorities accordingly.
By no means does land remediation have to be a high cost activity for local authorities, work needed may not be as extensive as anticipated and may not even be necessary at all. A feasibility appraisal can even save councils money by bringing to light potential high development costs and advising on the best way of handling these.
Remediation is ultimately about sustainability, with the main aims being to minimise landfill waste and encourage the re-use of site resources. An example of this is where aggregates created on-site can be recycled and used for other purposes, such as road construction. This sustainable approach has the additional benefit of saving councils money by providing a product that would have been imported at a cost.
With the combination of decreasing council funding and increasing demand for housing, it is becoming more and more imperative for local authorities to ensure they are making the most of their land assets. This includes putting an adequate strategy in place to make sure their portfolio is ‘oven-ready’.
As one of the leading remediation and infrastructure contractors in the UK, VHE has carried out a vast amount of land remediation work on residential and commercial development sites for owners and housing developers. We understand what developers expect of their remediation and infrastructure contractors and are able to develop and deliver the most appropriate cost effective solutions through our collaborative approach to such work. Feel free to contact us now on 01226 320150 to discuss your requirements.