Britpave: The British In-Situ Concrete Paving Association

Soil stabilisation is key for providing million new homes

Increased use of soil stabilisation could help deliver the construction of nearly a million new homes on brownfield land as envisaged by new report from the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England.

The report, ‘From wasted spaces to living spaces’, is based on research conducted for CPRE by the University of the West of England. It surveyed data from local planning authorities and concluded that a minimum of 976,000 new homes could be built on identified brownfield sites. Within the 976,000 figure, the report found that brownfield land with either detailed or outline planning permission is ready to accommodate the construction of over 400,000 homes. Vacant or derelict brownfield land without planning permission could accommodate a further 555,000 new homes. Nearly half of this vacant land is located in the south east, the east of London and London, which itself could accommodate 146,000 new homes.

The CPRE report has been welcomed by Britpave, the infrastructure group, which promotes the use of soil stabilisation as an efficient and sustainable way to bring brownfield land back into productive use.

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 often not sustainable or cost effective. “A far better approach is to use soil stabilisation and solidification to deal with the problem on site”, explained Al McDermid, chair of the Britpave Soil Stabilisation Task Group.

Using cementitious binding materials such as cement, lime, fly ash or ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS) renders potential contaminants immobile. 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.

“On site remediation and improvement of poor quality brownfield land using cementitious materials removes the cost of landfill taxes and the cost and environmental impact of lorry movements and the importation of virgin aggregate,” said McDermid.

He continued: “Soil stabilisation/solidification is a most effective and sustainable way to bring brownfield land back into productive use and so help provide the land needed to increase the country’s housing supply.”