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Phase 1 Desk Study for a Commercial Brownfield Development

Historic industrial history has left a legacy of contaminated land and as commercial development continues to occur today, redevelopment of brownfield sites becomes increasingly important. Consequently, correct identification of potential risks, through a Phase 1 Desk Study (Preliminary Risk Assessment), must take place before any new development of these sites can occur.

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Phase 1 Desk Studies for Commercial Development on Brownfield Land

Cities in the UK have an extensive history of manufacturing and development leaving behind a long legacy of potentially contaminated brownfield land. Landfill sites, car manufacturing and coal burning, can all lead to land contamination issues, either through the spread of ground gases or waste produced as by-products, and it is important to address this when developing on brownfield land that may be affected by historical (and current) industrial activity.

Commercial Development - When commercial development is proposed for a brownfield site, that's potentially contaminated by past activities or even current activities, a Phase 1 Desk Study, known in the industry as a Preliminary Risk Assessment, will need to be carried out in order to identify the potential sources and pathways of contamination that may affect people or the environment at a site. This is often added as a condition to a planning application and no development will be allowed to occur until a Phase 1 Desk Study is provided. For commercial developments on brownfield sites, it is important to consider the proposed site's potential environmental impacts and the presence of any contamination from past commercial uses.

Phase 1 Desk Study - A Phase 1 Desk Study for commercial brownfield development will start with an assessment of past uses of a commercial brownfield site, its environmental setting and any other relevant factors that may affect potential contamination. This information is used to develop what's known as a 'conceptual site model', used in the risk assessment portion of a Desk Study to identify potential 'pollutant linkages' that may be present at the commercial brownfield site. Using this process, a Phase 1 Desk Study allows the assessor to assume a particular level of risk as well as gain a good idea of where these risks may come from and who/what they may affect. The Phase 1 Desk Study will ultimately allow the assessor to determine whether any further testing is needed and how this should be carried out.

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A Phase 1 Desk Study for Commercial Brownfield Development - Case Study

In the case study highlighted here, our client needed a Phase 1 Desk Study (Preliminary Risk Assessment) to satisfy certain planning conditions, imposed by Birmingham City Council, for a proposed commercial development involving the construction of retail units on brownfield land in Sparkhill, Birmingham. The brownfield site was in a highly developed urban area and the site itself had previously been built on. Our desk studies identified multiple past uses for the brownfield site including a cinema, a billiards hall, a Fiat car garage and then a car rental service. The risk assessment portion of our Phase 1 Desk Study also involved analysing various other online databases to obtain information on the ground conditions at the site and other important environmental factors to identify potential contamination sources, pathways and receptors.

Risk Assessment - The information we gathered through our Phase 1 Desk Study for this was used to develop our conceptual site model, outlining the sources, pathways and receptors at this commercial brownfield site in Sparkhill, Birmingham. During its past use as a car garage, a fuel storage tank was installed underground which was identified as the only potentially significant source of contamination at the site. We therefore identified multiple contamination pathways present at the site including potential vapour ingress into the building from hydrocarbon contamination in the soil from leakage from the fuel tank.

Conclusion - Our Phase 1 Desk Study concluded that the risk to human health, nearby water courses and groundwater was low, for a number of reasons, with major points being that the fuel tank was decommissioned years ago and fuel leakages were not observed when it was removed. Additionally, it can be assumed that fuel leakages would be managed during use so the likelihood of an spillage or leakage of fuel would be low. The proposed commercial building was also comprised of a concrete base that would drastically limit any vapour ingress into the building. We were, therefore, able to confirm that, due to the lack of a significant contamination source or pathway, the contamination risk was low.

Review - We were very pleased to have been able to assist our client in discharging the conditions placed on his planning application, by carrying out a complete Phase 1 Desk Study for a commercial brownfield development, and are grateful to have received the below review of our service.

With your help we have successfully discharged the conditions from Birmingham City Council. Thank you for your support. - Mr Wahid

I Need a Phase 1 Desk Study for a Commercial Brownfield Development

We can carry out desk studies on potentially contaminated land for a range of commercial development projects on brownfield sites.

1. Contact us and let us know your requirements
2. Following initial consultation we can provide an outline proposal detailing how we can help and the costs involved
3. Our environmental consultants will then carry out a Phase 1 Desk Study (Preliminary Risk Assessment) and, if requested, visit your commercial brownfield site to carry out a supporting Walkover Survey
4. We can complete a Phase 1 Desk Study within days of your initial enquiry allowing you to stick to schedules and minimise any disruption to your project

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