The growing pressure to tackle the UK’s housing shortage means that building on brownfield and previously used land is becoming increasingly popular, but Bruton Knowles is urging developers to be diligent before taking the plunge.
Obstacles such as complicated or unclear ownership and physical challenges such as contamination and lack of infrastructure can damage the viability of such sites, which can leave developers with the unenviable task of picking their way through mountains red tape before starting their build.
Sam Spencer, associate at Bruton Knowles said: “The UK Government’s increasing frustration with the perceived slow progress of schemes that tackle the current housing crisis has led to measures being introduced to make brownfield sites a more attractive option.
“A £3 billion Home Builders Fund that has been introduced, with an additional £1.2 billion fund earmarked for starter homes on brownfield sites. Alongside this, the introduction of the brownfield register and the implementation of permission in principle is an important step in encouraging development on these sites.
“The brownfield register should allow landowners to get some certainty without spending tens of thousands of pounds, while permission in principle offers early certainty on in-principle matters such as use, location and amount of development, allowing developers to avoid spending significant time and money prior to achieving an agreement.”
While these new initiatives make brownfield sites significantly more attractive for investment, it is still crucial that developers check all the stipulations and remedial work needed for a site before committing to its purchase.
Sam added: “The big drawback with these sites is the work required to bring them up to suitable condition. While brownfield land with planning permission for housing can generally be bought more cheaply, it’s very rare that sites like these are ‘shovel ready’ and often need significant work such as demolition of existing structures or dealing with contaminated ground.
“Landowners and developers that have their eye on purchasing any brownfield land should talk to professional advisors and ensure they know what they are dealing with before making any significant moves.”