Environmental Searches: Unearthing the Unseen Threats

Published by GlobalX on Oct 2, 2019

Contaminated land; ground stability; flood risks and other environmental factors like power lines and phone masts may not be at the forefront of a potential buyer’s mind when making their home purchase. However, they could prove to be decisive factors once the homeowner is established in their home and the gloss of moving has worn off.

These issues will become more prevalent in the future with the Government looking to exploit Brownfield land and previously built on land in order to preserve untouched Green Belt areas.

Many previously areas of built on land are also located in desirable areas, creating much needed homes and improved infrastructure whilst also reducing the number of unused eyesores blighting a local area.

According to the Government’s ‘State of Brownfield 2019,’ there is enough Brownfield land available in England and Wales to build over 1.1 million homes across 18,000 sites covering in excess of 26,000 hectares.

Of these sites, around two thirds (59%) have already been declared ready and deliverable with a further 63% of newly identified brownfield development sites also being given the green light.

As previously developed land becomes a popular development choice, the chances of encountering historical issues likely to impact a homeowner’s future happiness and safety in a particular location could be on the rise. It is therefore imperative that environmental searches are considered before the home buying and selling process is complete.

Recently, a 111 residential dwelling development was completed in Walsall having been granted planning permission in 2016.

The Chenet Chase site borders a hazardous waste site with the company raising official concerns through a technical report, in 2017, regarding the safety risks associated with living so close to the established waste site. Among the threats, the report declared increased fire and toxic gas risks to residents bordering the site.

Currently, 63 properties have already been sold privately with residents living in the new build homes. Unfortunately, the 48 homes earmarked for social housing bordered the waste site and posed the most significant risk.

In June, following multiple Cabinet meetings, Cannock Chase Council announced a number of specific risk mitigations and started the process of filling the homes.

Risk mitigation strategies included building a 4m high heat shield along the entire boundary, fitting water sprinklers on certain properties, removing a number of parking spaces, installing gates to the apartment block to allow greater access for fire risk purposes and hosting quarterly review meetings.

The council has also insisted that applicants will be clearly informed of the risks before accepting a property. Whilst the social homes burden the greatest risk, the entire development faces unknown risks.

Risks that could have been unearthed in a comprehensive environmental report. With millions of properties in England and Wales already built in areas of flood risk, and the increase of licensed land fill and infilled landfill sites located in the UK, the results of an environmental search may play a vital part in offering your client the whole picture.

From efficient automated reports through to manually assessed environmental reports, GlobalX can offer the ideal report to suit all needs.

Contact us to find out more about our environmental searches.