Greenfield Land Development


greenfield land

Greenfield sites are usually undeveloped areas of land (largely farm/agricultural) that are being considered for development. They are generally located on the fringes of existing urban areas and are identified as areas to be developed to expand an existing town/village, or create retail/commercial developments to increase the economic opportunities of an area.

Greenfield Land Development generally has a significantly lower investigation and assessment requirement than brownfield land developments. However, naturally occuring geo-hazards are often present, as well as the requirement for more significant works to create new accesses, infrastructure and suitable development platforms.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Greenfield Development

As greenfield sites are previously undeveloped and generally free from obstructions (above and below ground), the prospective developer is likely able to design the possible layout of a development without too many restrictions (subject to access and planning etc). Generally located on the outskirts of urban areas, they usually cause less disruption (than brownfield developments) to the local infrastructure and residents.

The potential risk from contamination is also likely to be low and therefore the requirements for an remedial works and validation assessments are unlikely to be required as part of the pre-construction investigation stages. However, elevated levels of naturally occurring elements within some strata and unlicensed infilling of land is a common occurrence across the UK and should always be considered.

Developers may also find that surplus soils are generated during the development works, arising from the excavations on site; these can often be sold to offset some costs or re-used on a separate development site (subject to the appropriate waste and transfer guidance legislations).

The most notable reasons against development of greenfield areas is the potential impact on the local and wider environment. Immediate impacts can include loss of habitat, translocation of flora and fauna from one area to another and loss of green, open spaces from the UK countryside. In addition, increased pollution, both during the developments and after its completion, is inadvertently heightened with increased traffic, noise, and the potential to create a pollution incident/problem, that previously did not exist.

ESP Experience:

  • ESP have wide-ranging experience in the assessment of greenfield sites for Clients, which commonly begins with a Phase 1 Desk Study at an early stage, usually prior to purchase of the land.
  • Intrusive investigation works will generally always be required to enable detailed assessment of any identified geo-hazards. Methods commonly comprise trial pit excavations and boreholes.
  • Dependant on the findings, subsequent phases of monitoring to establish the long term hydrology at a site may be required.
  • Generally, remediation and validation is not normally required at greenfield sites.

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