Buyer beware as Chancellor’s brownfield site plan could see dream home become a nightmare

Chancellor George Osborne has announced plans to address house price inflation by making it easier for housebuilders to develop on brownfield sites.

With house price inflation estimated at more than 8%, the Treasury is keen to be seen to take action to help buyers and potential buyers. Mr Osborne used his Mansion House speech in London yesterday to reveal his plan to make councils create Local Development Orders – pre-approved planning permissions – for derelict sites in towns and cities.

But Angela Hesketh, Head of Conveyancing and Property at Liverpool solicitors Jackson Canter, warned that such a change could carry increased risk for those looking to buy.

“On paper this plan seems like a common-sense way to address the housing shortfall and slow rising prices. But building on sites where previously there has been industrial activity will require a more involved clean-up operation for housebuilders taking on these sites.

“For buyers or potential buyers, it will be increasingly important to instruct experienced conveyancing lawyers to endure that the appropriate protection is in place for them to ensure their dream home does not turn into a nightmare.

“Without knowing what land was previously used for, buyers could find themselves locked into a home where the land is contaminated with chemicals, or where their house has been built close to a covered pit or excavation shaft.

“A good conveyancing expert will make sure that a contract includes protections and provisions to ensure that, should a problem develop further down the line, the buyer is protected and is not trapped in a nightmare situation.”