“Location” is undoubtedly one of the most important factors in deciding whether or not to undertake a property development; however, when considering the redevelopment of a “brownfield” site it may be only one of a number of issues which need to be considered as part of the decision‐making process. Issues such as the environmental and economic cost of reclaiming or remediating land will assume an importance which does not exist with greenfield sites. The potential for harm, both to human beings and to the wider environment, will have to be considered, especially if any contamination is to be left on the site. Many brownfield sites are small in size, requiring the assembly of a number of sites, in different ownerships, in order to have a viable development project and they may also be plagued with problems such as inadequate access and obsolete services. The availability of tax incentives, or indeed penalties, to encourage brownfield redevelopment, together the possibility of obtaining insurance cover, will need to be factored into a valuation or development appraisal. This paper considers the issues to be considered as part of the decision making process. Some issues relate specifically to the assessment of risk, such as the potential for harms to humans, buildings or the environment, but taken altogether they should form part of a risk assessment strategy to determine the viability of development projects and the value, positive or negative, of brownfield development land. The paper reports on a survey of surveyors, developers and other professionals undertaken in the second half of 1998. It concludes that, while property professionals do not undertake a formal “risk assessment” procedure, they do take account of environmental as well as financial issues when deciding whether or not to proceed with the redevelopment of brownfield land.
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