EPG helps house owners to save their homes’ value

Imagine a simple remortgaging conversation revealing that your house has no financial value. This was the harsh reality for one of thirteen residents in Bradford, who discovered that the developer not adhering to planning conditions had resulted in his home receiving a zero valuation on remortgaging. 

The plight of the residents was shared in October 2020, on the BBC programme ‘Rip off Britain’. Details emerged that  gas membranes had not been installed and verified as required by the planning conditions, and the developers had since ceased trading, leaving residents stranded and distraught.  

With a wealth of experience in risk assessments and land remediation, EPG stepped in to examine the cases in detail. With an offer to investigate, free of charge, our Technical Director Steve Wilson sat down with some of the residents to discuss potential ways to resolve the problem. It became apparent that other planning conditions, relating to soakaways in the back gardens and an access road, had also not been complied with.   

The homes are located adjacent to a former landfill site which is also an area of former coal mine workings. However, this does not automatically mean that there is a risk of gas ingress into the buildings. Using existing information, EPG built up a detailed conceptual site model (CSM). The CSM is a vital part of any gas risk assessment and crucially, the part where extra time and effort pays dividends.  

It took over a week to drill down into the information and compile the model, which demonstrated that the risk of gas emissions was very low and gas membranes were not required. Furthermore, there was no need for further site investigation or gas monitoring to support this conclusion.  

EPG can provide this service for developers, and the cost of the desk study is usually far less than the cost savings achieved by removing the need for gas protection or gas monitoring at the preliminary risk assessment stage. Even where gas monitoring is required, we can often reduce or completely remove the need for gas protection systems.   

EPG also provided a revised specification and design for soakaways in the back gardens, with clients Alderburgh and JUTA (UK) kindly supplying the soakaway boxes and geotextile surround at no cost to the residents.  

The final piece in the jigsaw was to meet with the Highway Authority and agree that the access road could remain unadopted (private), avoiding the need for remedial works to bring it up to highway standards. There was a small cross over strip at the entrance already owned by the Highway Authority and EPG designed and specified some simple works to resolve the issue.  

EPG is part of a wider consultancy – STRI Group, and working alongside one of their senior planners, James Podesta, were able to submit a planning application to remove/vary the planning conditions to formalise amendments, and this was approved last year.  

The work put into place will allow the homeowners to proceed as normal and we wish them all the best for the future.