Britpave: The British In-Situ Concrete Paving Association

Housing white paper brownfield focus welcomed

8th February 2017


Maintaining the green belt is a central premise of today’s housing white paper ‘Fixing our broken housing market’. To fulfil this, both government and housebuilders must forward the increased use of soil stabilisation to enable more brownfield land to be used for residential development believes Britpave, the cementitious infrastructure association.

The white paper sets out the government’s plans to reform the housing market and boost the supply of new homes in England. There were concerns that this may be at the expense of the greenbelt. However, the paper calls for the maximisation of the contribution from brownfield and surplus land and for maintaining protection of the green belt which can only be built on “in exceptional circumstances”.

The focus on brownfield land is not without potential difficulties. Brownfield land is often more difficult to use than green field sites particularly if the site has been contaminated by previous industrial use. The traditional approach to this has been to simply dig up the problem soil and dump it elsewhere. This is not the most sustainable or cost effective approach as hazardous landfill site are few and far between and the haulage costs can be significant.

“A far better approach is to deal with the problem on site”, explained Al McDermid, chairman of the Britpave Soil Stabilisation Task Group. “In-situ remediation and improvement of poor quality brownfield land using cementitious materials to solidify and stabilise the soil removes the cost of lorry movements, landfill taxes and importation of virgin aggregate. It also has a significantly reduced environmental impact.”

Soil stabilisation involves using cementitious binding materials such as cement, lime, fly ash or ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS) to render potential contaminants immobile and unleachable. Stabilisation of the soil treats the contaminants to produce a soil that is less toxic. Solidification improves the physical properties of the stabilised soil to provide a strong engineered construction material. McDermid said: “When done correctly by reputable and experienced contractors who carry out the necessary ground investigation and laboratory work, soil stabilisation/solidification is a most effective way to bring brownfield land back into productive use. It certainly is an approach that should be at the forefront of making more land available for housing without encroaching on the greenbelt.”