Redeveloping for Residential
Phase 1 Contamination Assessment

Redeveloping for Residential land use

If you are planning a residential property development on a site where there is potential contamination of land, or where the proposed development is vulnerable, (this includes residential developments, especially as gardens are likely to be included), carrying out an environmental contamination assessment is mandatory and must be submitted with the planning application.

In fact the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process has become a critical aspect in the majority of large scale planning applications, and thus an integral part of the planning processes being used today.

The other benefits of carrying out an Environmental Assessment

Besides the fact that such assessments are mandatory, there are other very good reasons to carry out a recognised environmental assessment. The most important of these is that once forewarned of any issues, specialist environmental planners and technical specialists can be employed so that all the (now identified) pitfalls can be avoided. This minimises the risk of any legal challenge to the real estate / commercial / development project.

The full evaluation of the environmental impact of the redevelopment (these being both positive and negative) allows the developer to create a set of mitigation strategies, a practise that has proven to reduce, and/or offset, the adverse impacts of their proposed development.

What Constitutes Contaminated Land?

Land falls within the legal definition of ‘Contaminated Land’ where it is deemed to present a risk of serious harm to human health or to the local environment. Some common examples are where heavy metals such as cadmium are found in the soil, or where the land was used as a gas works or even a dry cleaning company in the past. In such cases toxic wastes can pollute the soil and local aquifers, which could be used as part of the drinking water supply network. In the past many residential developments were built adjacent to, or over a former industrial site without any checks being carried out. Many such sites were deemed to be potentially harmful to the residents. Thus today, proper assessment of the land is required, together with plans for effective remediation, (if any contamination is found) before any planning permissions will be granted.

 

The Minimum Requirement is a Phase 1 Investigation

At the very least such a contamination assessment must include a Phase 1 investigation, which consists of a desk study, a site walkover and a conceptual site model.

'Where any contamination is known or suspected or the proposed use would be particularly vulnerable (such as housing with gardens) the Local Planning Authority should require the applicant to provide with the application such information as is necessary to determine whether the proposed development can proceed.'

The Planning Officer will consult with the Council’s Contaminated Land Officer. They will then assess the application and may recommend that further information be submitted or planning conditions be imposed upon the development, so ensuring the site will be suitable and safe for the end users, the environment and the public.

The issue of environmental checks goes further than that of redeveloping land for residential use, as all land purchases could possibly lead to unwanted consequences if that land was subsequently found to be polluted. In some circumstances the original polluter will remain liable, but in others (especially when dealing contamination that took place many years ago) the liability could fall on the current owner who would have to pay for the costs to rectify / remediate the site, something that could cost a lot of money and will also undoubtedly reduce the value of the land and anything that has been built on it. It is therefore vital that proper environmental assessments are carried out.

 

Reduce Planning Delays and Environmental Issues

To ensure there is no delay in the redevelopment (or land purchase) of the project, Argyll Environmental can provide you with a phase 1 report, (as well as any following consultation services needed) to meet your needs and the requirements of the local authority.

In some cases we have negotiated with the local Authority so that only a desktop phase 1 is required, rather than the site visit. This can save valuable time and money.

Speak to one of our consultants now on 0845 4525250 or email orders@argyllenviro.com and we can discuss your requirements.

 

Further Reading

NHBC - Guidance for the Safe Development of Housing on Land Affected by Contamination

Development on Land affected by contamination. Technical Guidance for developers land owners and consultants. Published by Various local Authorities.

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