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Potential land contamination

(14 Posts)
FrightenedFTB Wed 07-Oct-20 22:21:26

Dear All,

Last week, I received the results from local searches on a property I am looking at in North Woolwich. The environmental reports was flagged up for potential land contamination. I have since checked the Council's website for past permissions on the property which was built around 1997.
There was a document on the website that showed that planning permission was granted after the developer satisfied the Council's conditions for archeological survey and land contamination.

The archeological survey showed that the land was excavated to 3 meters in depth. furthermore, the permission document from the council stated the following:

"The council's environmental health division following extensive consultations with yourselves is of the opinion that the contamination condition has been satisfied subject to the intended works being implemented satisfactorily".

I get the feeling that the Council's conclusion reads like an opinion and not a fact based analysis. Am I being paranoid? Also, If the contamination condition was satisfied then, why could it be possibly showing up in environmental searches again? Would this be an issue if i choose to sell in the future?

I really like the house and I feel like we've gotten really far in the buying process, but I am also concerned about potential health hazards (exposure to carcinogens etc).

My solicitor has requested for more information from the vendor's solicitor, but from discussing with the EA it appears this is the first time they've come across this and the vendor likely doesn't have any more information that what is on the council's website. Should I ignore the local search report? Has anyone faced similar issues in the past?

OP’s posts: |
Dinocan Wed 07-Oct-20 22:27:17

Our searches came back with a high alert for radon gas (I think). It was due to some old gas works near by. We knew it was nothing to worry about as they’ve newly built the local school on that site and all the earth had been tested, yet it still comes up. It sounds like it’s nothing much to worry about. Lots of areas will have it thrown up in searches due to something or other but it’s just a technicality, no actual risk.

LooseMooseHoose Thu 08-Oct-20 00:03:18

I don't think the OP is talking about radon, that's not really contamination.

My DF is in land remediation and if I read that statement I wouldn't be overly concerned. Would want to know what kind of contamination and what the remediation process was though. When cleaning up contamination, you can never be 100% sure (scientifically speaking) that you have caught every trace of chemical. But you need to get to the point where you are well below any harmful level.

That statement basically says that if the "intended works" were completed, the contamination was fixed. So, as I say, make sure that those works were completed

FrightenedFTB Thu 08-Oct-20 01:27:45

Thank you both. The environmental report is based on Ordinance Survey maps and it shows that the contamination source is "Joinery works". This has left me even more confused - my understanding of joinery is nothing related to contaminants.

OP’s posts: |
BitOfFun Thu 08-Oct-20 01:31:04

"The council's environmental health division following extensive consultations with yourselves is of the opinion that the contamination condition has been satisfied subject to the intended works being implemented satisfactorily".

How embarrassing. Awful.

titsbumfannythelot Thu 08-Oct-20 06:35:19

If the property is built and you're not planning any extension works you should be fine. I would try and get a letter of comfort from the local authority, via the vendor.

It sounds as though a report with remediation measures has been submitted, you just need confirmation that the measures have actually been implemented.

MigGril Thu 08-Oct-20 06:45:10

Was the property build on a brown field site. So there was some industrial works there beforehand?

Where my sister lives are new housing, but they are all built on what was an ex ammunition storage site. Due to this the land is classified was classified as contaminated and the developers had to replace the top soil on building. It's nothing harmful but I'm sure would show up on a search if they where to sell the house.

Zebrahooves Thu 08-Oct-20 08:25:43

It sounds to me like they were instructed to remove the top 3m of soil in order to remove the contaminated soil, plus a bit extra. They would then have had to bring in more fresh soil from a clean supplier to replace the removed soil before they could build.

There was something similar to this in a house being built locally.

If the house was built fairly recently I would have a look at the council's planning website which should hold the necessary reports. Sometimes there is a separate contaminated land report, whereas for others it will be buried in a longer report.

Loofah01 Thu 08-Oct-20 08:50:01

Its a planning condition applied by the council to the developers planing submission. The developer would have had to submit a proposal to define and remediate the contamination and the council will have assessed the proposal. What you see now is the result of that. It's possible the council never even visited the site!
Defintely require evidence of sign off by the council. Also consider indemnity insurance against the contamination.

FurierTransform Thu 08-Oct-20 09:58:25

Sounds like a typical brownfield site - Joinery works would have used all sorts of chemicals, hence the 3m top soil land removal/re-importation.

Have a look on this map; see if you can identify the name of the old works/factory if you're interested: maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/
You can then google it alongside 'pollution' etc.

A 1997 development should also have all the planning permission supporting documentation available on your local authority website - take a read through it all.

Personally i'd always feel a bit uneasy about living on such reclaimed land.

SabrinaThwaite Thu 08-Oct-20 10:43:47

The Council will have required suitable remediation to have been carried out prior to development - hence the comment about the EH department being satisfied that the appropriate plans were in place.

It will still be showing up on the environmental searches because the old OS maps used to research the site history will show industrial works in the vicinity of the property. Historically, a joinery works would be considered a source of historical contaminants, such as wood treatment chemicals.

I did a lot of contaminated land investigation works in the 1990s, investigations and remediation plans were well developed at that point and any residential developments had to be remediated to a high level (it was quite belt and braces back then).

RainStormTea Thu 08-Oct-20 11:22:40

@BitOfFun The council can only give their opinion based on the reports provided by the builder because they haven’t conducted the survey of the contamination themselves, they have to word it in that way as it’s a quasi judicial decision.

You should be able to read the archeological/contamination survey linked to the planning permission and see any mitigation’s the builder put in place to protect the property. You could find another surveyor to visit the property and look for land contamination or rely on the report done by the builder.

FrightenedFTB Thu 08-Oct-20 13:18:10

Thank you all. I've sent an email to the developer to see if they can provide any documentation showing suitable remediation was carried out.

OP’s posts: |
BitOfFun Thu 08-Oct-20 13:19:33

@RainStormTea I was just reacting to the pompous and semi-literate language used!

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