Derelict brownfield land contaminated remediating costs published by EP

New guidance on calculating the costs associated with remediating contaminated and – for the first time - derelict brownfield land has been issued by national regeneration agency English Partnerships. The Best Practice Note Contamination and Dereliction Remediation Costs acknowledges that tackling the problems caused by dereliction can be as complex and often as expensive as treating or removing contamination.

Published online, the revised note complements the recent budget announcement by Government of further tax relief on brownfield sites across the country that have been affected by long-term dereliction. This extension to the Land Remediation Relief scheme will in future include expenditure on sites affected by dereliction and the removal of Japanese knotweed; sites in England listed as derelict in the NLUD (National Land Use Database) in 1998 should qualify for relief. This tax relief will come into effect from 1 April 2009.

Professor Paul Syms, English Partnerships National Brownfield Advisor, said: 'We welcome Government’s plans to extend tax relief to such sites, as part of its drive to assist the potential of unlocking thousands of hectares of brownfield land for redevelopment. Brownfield land development is not just about building much needed homes, it is also about decontaminating blighted areas, clearing and recycling derelict sites and creating open green spaces in urban centres too.'

He stressed that this Best Practice Note is guidance only, and that nothing can be a substitute for good quality site assessment. 'We hope this guide will be used as a benchmark by Government agencies, department partners and other stakeholders.'

In the Best Practice Note, sites are broken down into four historic use categories according to the complexities of redevelopment and four end use categories – public open space, residential, employment and mixed use, with high or low water risk. Costs will vary depending upon a range of factors including, for example, the size of the site, sensitivity of the planned redevelopment, site context, the duration and nature of use, and geology. Regional weightings are also a consideration when calculating costs. A high water risk contaminated site intended for residential use, for instance, could range in cost from £125,000 to £1.375m per hectare to remediate.

When calculating costs for brownfield sites affected by dereliction, expenditure on removal of redundant services, demolitions above ground, below grounds, fees and site investigations all need to be factored in. Costs for preparing a large complex site for residential use, for instance, might be broken down into: £30-180,000 for removal of redundant services, £150-200,000 per hectare for demolitions above ground, £50-60,000 per hectare for demolitions below ground, £690-770,000 for total fees, and £200-300,000 for total site investigations. Where the land is contaminated, the costs for its remediation need to be calculated separately.

This Best Practice Note complies with Strand one of the first-ever National Brownfield Strategy for England – submitted by English Partnerships and formally adopted by Government on 4th March – which advocates 'Policies to identify, assess and prepare brownfield land for re-use to ensure an adequate supply of land when it is needed.'

The Strategy sets out recommendations for reusing over 52,000 hectares of previously developed, vacant or derelict land in support of Government ambitions to build 3 million new homes by 2020. At least 60% of the homes will be on brownfield sites, protecting greenfield land and contributing to general wellbeing by tackling derelict, blighted land within existing communities.