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Brownfield sites 'could be perfect for construction'

Construction companies could benefit from the opening up of more brownfield sites across the UK for the delivery of new homes, business parks and other amenities, it has been claimed.

Dr Mark Cowley, principal partner at Listers Geotechnical Consultants, said in an island nation like the UK, land is a precious, finite resource that should not be squandered and therefore any areas which can feasibly be used for new developments should be.

He commented: "I consider one of the most important factors in making building projects more environmentally sustainable is to construct new developments on brownfield sites wherever possible. These are sites that have previously been developed and for whatever reason could now be built on again."

This does not mean any new development on a brownfield site will automatically qualify as being environmentally friendly, but it is sustainable, as the area the development is being created is in effect being recycled, ensuring virgin, greenbelt land does not have to be destroyed to make way for more homes and firms.

Indeed, Mr Cowley concluded that the recycling effect can be taken one stage further, with new property developments using materials already found on brownfield sites for any new developments. This cuts down on emissions caused by the transport of new building materials and also means less waste has to be disposed of.

According to the latest figures from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), the government department is on track to exceed its construction targets for 2011-12.

Overall, the authority has delivered 149,000 sq m of new business space and transformed 182 hectares of disused or rundown property over the last year. This is an excellent achievement for the HCA, as it has already exceeded its original aims of 87,000 sq m and 160 hectares respectively.

HCA chief executive Pat Ritchie said: "We have utilised our enabling role to help communities achieve their housing ambitions and significantly invested in the places that need it most." 

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