Contamination Grows, Don’t You Know?

The route provides 27 miles of privately funded and operated highway from Coleshill in North Warwickshire to Cannock in South Staffordshire.  The road carried an average 47,592 vehicles on weekdays in the summer of 2010  and from my experience of the Toll Road, private cars form the vast majority of the traffic.

The M6 Toll Road was identified as an “M6 Relief Road” to alleviate congestion on the M6, which is something many people feel has not been adequately addressed and, with one way car tolls at peak periods of £5, this is something to be debated elsewhere.

From a property perspective the benefits have probably been more tangible than the traffic improvements.  The southern end of the Toll Road and the ‘T1’ junction close to J4 M6 coincided with some of the latter stage build projects at the Hams Hall National Distribution Park, a 430 acre business park which ranks as one of the best such employment parks in the UK.

Junctions T2 and T3 appear to largely function as commuter gateways for those living to the south and east of Sutton Coldfield from where national motorway access has improved considerably and the effect on house prices has been positive in these areas.

The access to Junctions T4 and T5 at Weeford and Lichfield has given a stimulus to residential and commercial property markets alike with possibly the biggest winner being the 300 acre Fradley Park, where some of the largest distribution buildings in the area have been built with more to come.  We are marketing the new Fradley Prologis Scheme with 70 acres and units to 700,000 sq ft available to be built and which will be on site shortly.

T6 Burntwood, a forgotten part of the West Midlands conurbation 10 years ago for business and for new build residential perhaps, has not quite been “transformed” but certainly “considerably improved”.

T7 & T8 and the Cannock access points to the Toll Road provided the catalyst that has helped to promote the former coal mining town into a first rate employment location.  Significant development of a cross section of employment type accommodation from offices to manufacturing and warehouse operations has bought vitality to Cannock which I think is largely due to the Toll Road passing the town’s doorstep.

For those drivers who still regularly sit stationary on the M6 between junction 8 and 10 bemoaning the state of the traffic and whether the Toll Road has done the job it promised, the tangible benefits are probably in property as much as traffic counts.  The commercial new build and viability of new schemes along the entire length of the Toll Road has been transformed since the road was built.

Japanese Knotweed can be a real dilemma for property owners and developers.  The plant, which can grow as much as 20 centimetres in one day and could reach three metres high by July, it is a notifiable contaminant and more common than you would think – just look beside a railway embankment, canal or many urban environments close to water.

For many property owners, simply the mention of Japanese Knotweed can bring on a cold sweat.  Not only is it renowned for its invasive properties and hardiness during eradication but also for the fact that mortgage lenders and insurance companies may not cover a property at which it is present in the ground.

If knotweed is found affecting a property yet was not reported at the time of a sale, it can potentially result in expected mortgage or insurance covers being withdrawn.

The fearful reputation of Japanese Knotweed is not without sound foundation, albeit there are a number of myths surrounding the plant – including that it can ‘burrow’ through foundations – which have contributed to its unenviable image.

That said, property owners and developers do need to be aware of the need to take action when it is discovered, not least because there is legislation governing its treatment which could mean property owners might unintentionally break the law, with associated potential ramifications.

The Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981) makes it a criminal offence to spread Japanese Knotweed.  This means any excavated soil from an affected area that is taken off site must be disposed of at a licensed landfill site.  It is, therefore, important to avoid placing cuttings or roots in ordinary rubbish bins or in compost heaps.  To do so would be a breach of the Environment Act (1990) and could lead to an unlimited fine. 

The problem is not insurmountable but prompt action does need to be taken.  RICS recommends investigating full eradication using a reputable contractor.  Owners need to recognise that this can take weeks or months as it usually involves a combination of herbicides and excavation, and some aspects of treatment are weather dependent.

A useful source of additional detail and information on Japanese Knotweed and other invasive plants can be found at: and at

These include giant hogweed, Himalayan balsam, floating pennywort, parott’s feather and New Zealand pigmyweed!

Need help or advice fast? Call on Harris Lamb’s Building Surveyor’s on 0121 455 9455.

For advice and assistance on all aspects of Building Surveying, Carl would be happy to help. He can be reached on 0121 455 9455 or via email:      

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