LV= reveals one in ten homes built on brownfield sites have problems

From: LV=
Published: Wed Mar 30 2011

LV= has revealed that over the next decade around half a million homes will be built on redeveloped ex-industrial sites that could pose risks to homeowners and their homes.

A new report from home insurer LV= reveals that around 125 million square metres of redeveloped brownfield land, earmarked for the building of 500,000 homes, is potentially at risk of flooding or contamination, which could cost homeowners thousands of pounds to address.

Brownfield sites are defined as land which has potential for redevelopment after previously being occupied by another permanent building, such as a factory or industrial works. Redeveloping brownfield sites is a cornerstone of the current national housing policy, with 79% of all new builds being built on recycled land in recent years.

Yet according to the LV= research, over one in ten (11%) new homes built on brownfield land have suffered problems as a result of the land the property is built on, affecting a total of 74,000 homes in the last ten years. The most common problem is flooding, but there are also cases of contamination, poor drainage and sewage problems.

One of the drivers behind the current policy encouraging house builders to redevelop land is the creation of affordable homes for first-time buyers. The LV= research shows that few (17%) prospective buyers are actually specifically looking to buy new build housing, rather many feel that this is the only option available to them through local authority shared ownership schemes as many of these properties are new builds. Others say they are persuaded to buy new build homes because of incentives such as deposit cash back schemes from developers or free white goods.

Currently, over a third (34%) of prospective buyers are unaware of the problems associated with former industrial land and a quarter (24%) do not check the previous use of the land a house is built on. LV= is advising potential buyers to check the previous use of the land a house is built on before committing to a purchase, by speaking to neighbours, checking old maps or commissioning a full environmental report to ensure they do not experience problems once they've moved in.

John O'Roarke, managing director of LV= home insurance, said: "It is vital that we continue to protect greenbelt land and that new uses can be found for brownfield sites, especially where there is a shortage of affordable housing. However, with many new properties being built on second-hand land, it's vital that potential buyers carry out adequate checks to find out what their new property is built on so they are aware of the risks. Regardless of when the property is built, it's always a good idea to get a structural survey when purchasing a property and to discuss any potential issues with their insurer to ensure they have adequate cover for their new home."

About LV=:
LV= is a registered trademark of Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society Limited (LVFS) and a trading style of the Liverpool Victoria group of companies.

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