With more developers seeking to make use of brownfield sites for housing, Shaun Forrester, Sales Director at Anderton Concrete, looks at the ways in which housebuilders can unlock their potential.
Last year, the Government made the bold statement that it aimed to build 300,000 houses on average each year. This commitment to housebuilding was reaffirmed at the recent Conservative Party Conference when James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, stated that housing continued to be their biggest domestic priority.
A raft of initiatives have been launched to ensure housebuilders can meet the ambitious targets. Amongst these is a drive to make better use of land that is underused and that land is available in the right places for homes, including brownfield sites. Brownfields and urban sites offer many opportunities and are a convincing solution to solving the housing shortage.
Where there is limited ground for development, retaining walls can be specified to extend the area of level ground available for building.
An analysis of Brownfield Land Registers, carried out by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), confirms that there is enough space on brownfield land to build at least one million new homes, with more than two-thirds of these homes deliverable within the next five years. Many of these sites are in areas with a high need for housing. These findings reveal that that three of the next five years’ worth of Governmental housing targets could be met by only building homes on identified brownfield land.
However, these sites typically require careful consideration and the types of groundworks required will differ from greenfield sites. If housebuilders are to maintain the integrity of the property for the lifetime of the building, they need to invest in construction methods and materials that are effective, cost efficient and simple to use.
Structural concrete products are essential in achieving this and as a result, modular retaining walls and reinforced soil retaining systems are growing in popularity. Where there is limited ground for development, retaining walls can be specified to extend the area of level ground available for building. Alternatively, walls may be simply required to create terraces and attractive landscaping, particularly on the more prestigious developments.
The most appropriate solution will depend on a number of factors, including the steepness of the slope, the underlying soil conditions and the precise purpose of the wall. From the outset these considerations will be factored into the final geotechnical solution.
Our range of precision made concrete structural products has been specially developed to meet the needs of today’s building and construction sites. Our Slope-Loc product is a dry laid concrete block that offers an aesthetic finish to suit numerous vernaculars, as well as fast construction and semi-skilled installation that does not require mortar.
Alternatively, housebuilders and developers can use Stepoc – a system of concrete shuttering blocks that are highly-engineered and dimensionally co-ordinated. The system has been designed to readily accept vertical and horizontal reinforcement for use where structural performance is the prime consideration. Its design enables vertical and horizontal reinforcement to be placed adjacent to either block face, or both if required. This helps to ensure that maximum strength is achieved just where it’s needed, while enabling the fast construction of single skin retaining walls up to 4m high.
These are just two examples of the kind of building material that will address and resolve a host of challenges when building on brownfield sites and help get Britain building. With brownfield sites set to dominate the housing boom in the coming years, not only is the Government’s commitment a boost for the housebuilding industry, but will also drive further demand for quality concrete products as developers seek to make the most of the opportunities they offer.