Managing Heritage regeneration

Brownfield Regeneration fund opens for bids

As part of the Government’s ‘One Public Estate Programme’, strategies for Levelling Up and an acceleration in housing development will see qualifying regional councils able to bid for a share of £40million, to release brownfield land to build houses for local communities. The Government estimate that some four thousand new homes can be built through this fund.

The current round of the Brownfield Land Release Fund opens this month, enabling council-owned derelict sites across England to transform into vibrant active spaces, where communities need them most. They will create new homes close to employment opportunities and bring core facilities and amenities within easy reach for local families.

As Local Authority Planners, Surveyors and Developers prepare to bring forward these sites, they will be mindful of the possible additional challenges that come with regenerating disused developed land. These include industrial contaminants, unseen services, un-safe working hazards, and biodiversity, to name but a few.

Hidden in plain sight

There is also the need to consider managing heritage to reduce the risks associated with the regeneration of brownfield sites in relation to the historic environment and its uses. Accurate assessment of any site and its heritage resource can avoid costly missteps and delays – not least because archaeological and heritage assets can sometimes be difficult to understand or be hidden in plain sight.

There is little benefit in progressing with a complex and costly development until there is clarity on a sites potential archaeological and heritage issues. Works such as Initial Site Heritage Appraisals, Heritage Statements, Archaeology Desk Based Assessments and Historic Building Recording Appraisals are all early tools used to better understand what may be present on a site, as well as what is and what is not significant from a heritage perspective. This will allow for a much stronger management of project risk from the outset.

The above works can be supported by a further phased approach to archaeological investigation and mitigation, if required. Often as part of a planning application these works can include input such as geophysical survey, detailed site walkover, trial trenching or archaeological excavation, with these works supported by a Written Scheme of Investigation to guide the scope and methodology of such services.

Controlling long-term costs

Engaging a professional heritage consultant like AB Heritage will enable the most cost-effective phasing of works, targeting and scoping the most appropriate route through the planning process at the earliest opportunity. Early input can help to mitigate heritage constraints (through avoidance or limiting potential risk during design works), resulting in better control of long term costs and a reduction in potential project delays.

AB Heritage is a registered organisation with the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists and collaborates with clients across the UK to help manage built heritage and archaeology as part of successful developments.

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Brownfield Land Release Fund

Top image copyright: Stewart Charles: Dreamtime Images

Bottom image: AB Heritage: Derelict Factory Building Somerset 

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