MAKING BROWNFIELD DEVELOPMENT A REALITY
James Roebuck, National Sales Manager, egeplast UK
Brownfield land is an important part of the UK’s housebuilding programme. The CPRE’s 2022 ‘State of Brownfield Report’[i] shows that the availability of previously developed land continues to grow across England. More than 1.2 million homes could now be built on 23,000 sites which cover more than 27,000 hectares of brownfield.
Earlier this year, the UK Government released a further £60m capital grant funding via the second phase of the Brownfield Land Release Fund (BLRF2)[ii], a cross-government initiative between the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and One Public Estate (OPE) which is delivered in partnership by the Local Government Association and the Cabinet Office.
Providing up to £180 million of capital grant funding to English councils over a three year period, the Brownfield Land Release Fund 2 (BLRF2) was initially launched in June 2022 and has already provided funding to more than 40 councils. This initial issue of funding alone has released land for the development of over 2,200 homes by 2026. Clearly brownfield land is a core area of focus for the country as it seeks to address the housing shortage.
Building on brownfield sites is not without its challenges, however, particularly with regard to the provision of clean water supplies. Brownfield by its very nature often comprises contaminated land and when it comes to drinking water supplies this presents its own challenges, specifically the requirement for pipe products which prevent water contamination from any hydrocarbons and other chemical ‘nasties’ which may be present in the soil.
Against this backdrop, barrier pipe systems are of increasing importance to the housebuilding and water utility sectors. With over 30 years’ experience in barrier pipe design and manufacture, egeplast UK has a long history of providing the water industry with a cost-effective, high quality barrier pipe systems that protect clean drinking water from contaminants in brownfield land.
We recognise that brownfield construction sites present a unique set of challenges for both water companies and contractors. Both organisations need to ensure the pipe network is effectively sealed and the clean water it carries is protected from potential contamination while delivering their projects on time and within an often stringent budget. All too often, the temptation is to focus on what appears to be the cheapest solution – standard pipe which is wrapped to prevent the ingress of harmful contaminants – when in reality a tried and tested barrier pipe solution delivers a more robust and cost-effective solution.
The issues for both the water company and the contractor are two-fold: the quality and durability of the solution, and the overall cost of the product and its installation.
Barrier pipe is undoubtedly more expensive to purchase ‘off the shelf’ than standard pipe but by the time standard pipe has been wrapped on site the costs of this option can be quadruple the price of a barrier pipe system. In addition, as the pipe is wrapped on site in less than ideal conditions, the quality of the wrap is nowhere near that of a specially designed and prefabricated barrier pipe which has been manufactured in accordance with strict quality control standards in a dedicated manufacturing facility. The integrity of a wrapped pipe on-site may well be compromised and it will almost certainly be less durable than a specially designed and fabricated barrier pipe system.
In contrast, by specifying a system such as egeplast’s SLA barrier pipe contractors and water companies can be confident that they have a robust, durable solution that is ultimately much more cost effective to purchase. Furthermore, SLA barrier pipe requires only a standard installation process on site making it much quicker, easier and cheaper to install. The installation ‘outcome’ is also inevitably superior.
Although utility companies sometimes buy alternative mechanical fittings, often manufactured from different materials, to “connect” during the installation process, this significantly increases installation time, cost and inconvenience. Difficult installation conditions on site can also compromise the installation.
As a result, many utility companies and contractors now specify the egeplast SLA barrier pipe system on brownfield sites. By doing so the water company and its contractors also have access to a wide range of compatible fittings manufactured by egeplast UK in the UK, eliminating the need to fabricate fittings on site.
Ultimately this means that, although a wrapped pipe solution may seem the more cost effective option, the specification of a proven barrier pipe system such as egeplast SLA, is the only way for contractors to ensure that their pipe system is properly sealed and will deliver the performance required by both the water company, the housebuilder and the consumer.
i CPRE ‘State of Brownfield Report’ 2022 – https://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/state-of-brownfield-report-2022/
ii Brownfield Land Release Fund 2 – https://www.local.gov.uk/topics/housing-and-planning/one-public-estate/brownfield-land-release-fund