Have you considered brownfield sites for your self build project?
As well as the government’s ‘build build build‘ announcements to upgrade Britain’s infrastructure, they’ve pledged to build 300,000 new homes per year. To do this while protecting precious biodiversity seems ambitious, but redeveloping brownfield sites could be the answer. Focusing on using previously disused land, which therefore no longer serves a purpose, there’s space available for new homes that doesn’t affect local green spaces, reducing the environmental impact often associated with new builds.
What is a brownfield site?
While a greenfield site has never been built on before, a brownfield site is previously developed land. Excluding (in most circumstances) barn conversions, garden plots or replacement dwellings, a brownfield site could have been used for industrial, commercial, or agricultural purposes. Abandoned storage units, an old petrol station, or derelict warehouses could all be considered when attempting to locate a brownfield site.
What’s a brownfield register?
To help in the search of a brownfield site, local authorities have been required to keep brownfield land registers since 2017. Unfortunately, research shows that only 31% of potential self builders are aware they exist, however self builders can check the brownfield land register for their desired area to clarify whether or not a site is brownfield, and therefore suitable for residential development.
To be considered for redevelopment, a brownfield site must be capable of delivering at least five extra dwellings and be free from ownership issues or legal constraints. The brownfield register makes this information more accessible to self builders.
What are the pros and cons of considering a brownfield site as a self builder?
Building on previously-used land makes practical sense with regards to meeting the government’s targets for creating new homes. There is sadly a lack of greenfield sites to meet this demand, but revamping a brownfield site means derelict or unused land provides the space, plus demolishing a run-down building, can go a long way to improving a community’s landscape.
That being said, it’s the green-thinking that seems to be most enticing self builders with 28% considering self builds due to their positive environmental impact. Meadows, rivers, and local green spaces are essential in capturing and removing CO2 from the atmosphere, and so avoiding these areas in favour of a brownfield site is almost a no-brainer.
Planning applications are probably one of the biggest headaches when it comes to a self build project, but brownfield sites actually don’t require a ‘normal’ self build application. It’s necessary to carry out a survey to reveal any potential issues associated with the land’s previous use like contamination, however with proper investigation, these issues can easily be factored into – and fixed during if necessary – the project.
How will using a brownfield site affect my mortgage?
Individuals seeking finance to build or convert a property on brownfield land will require a self build mortgage. This is because most lenders will consider major renovations or rebuilds under the self build category, as funds will be used towards construction costs. To avoid the risk of dealing with a provider who is hesitant to lend on brownfield land, work with a mortgage provider who undertakes a manual approach to assessing affordability – that way, the application is more likely to be successful. Self builders could also consider using an intermediary experienced in self build mortgage applications.
Author: Joanne Leek from Ipswich Building Society. Ipswich Building Society offers self build mortgages and operates a manual underwriting approach, so applications are reviewed by an individual, not a computer.