Assets

Assets

We recognise there is a fundamental need to secure your business critical assets, from vacant land, development sites and compounds, to plant, materials and fuel. As a leading provider of sustainable security, we are perfectly positioned to secure, monitor and protect your valuable assets.

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How to Secure Unoccupied Land

How to Secure Unoccupied Land
How to Secure Unoccupied Land

Facts and Figures

Let’s start with an interesting fact or two about land. More specifically, our land.

Over two centuries after the poet Willliam Blake wrote the lyrics to what went on to become Jerusalem, we still have our green and pleasant land.

Prepare to be a little surprised. Why?

Well, according to government statistics, despite our expectations – especially if we live in a town or a city – just 8.7% of land in England is in developed use. An incredible 91.1% is non-developed, encompassing agricultural areas, forestry, open land and bodies of water. (0.2% is vacant.)

We are less urban and more rural than we think we are.

Nevertheless, if you own unoccupied land, these small – and large – statistics may be of little comfort. Valuable commercial land is an expensive asset, every bit as much as the properties built on it, and can be vulnerable to crime. Perhaps you run a construction company or work in property management. With empty land, you may be fighting a continuous battle against unauthorised intrusion.

When it comes to land, we can help.

Clearway has been safeguarding assets like these for over 30 years, and we’d like to share our experience and knowledge with you. In this piece, find out what vacant commercial land “looks like” and what challenges there could be. We’ll also suggest some hard-hitting measures to keep it as secure as possible.

Open To The Elements – And More

Regarding empty commercial land, consider the following categories:

  • Land waiting to be developed. As a property developer, your investment awaits action: the construction of housing, shops, offices or other buildings for business use. And, there could be hold-ups and delays, exposing the plot to lawlessness.
  • Large, open spaces around occupied or empty commercial properties. Not all factories, storage facilities or warehouses are in close-knit, urban areas; many are remote and well into the countryside, with significant land surrounding them or leading up to them.
  • Farms in rural settings – isolated and surrounded by acres of vacant terrain, there’s space. And more space. While practically at-one with everything the land offers us, there’s a risk of theft here. And, the possibility of being targeted by vandals or intruders. Farmers may store machinery, equipment and fuel on open ground – rich pickings indeed. Read more about securing farmland here.
  • Abandoned building sites, plots and construction projects. Not everything starts and finishes. A number of schemes grind to a half, perhaps due to lack of funds, or even a change of plan.

What Could Go Wrong?

With unoccupied land, the short answer is: regretfully, quite a lot.

1. Fire Hazard

Unsecured areas can be hazardous on a warm sunny day (or any day); they’re a magnet for children who may accidentally start a fire when playing. In addition, arsonists love fire and know how to set it to cause maximum chaos and damage.

In addition, combustible materials such as rubbish and debris left on unoccupied land may further increase the risk.

2. Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour

An abandoned or insecure plot can be exceptionally appealing. It becomes a hub for criminal activity and antisocial behaviour, not least a spot for illegal gatherings, which escalate and grow.

3. Property Values

If vacant properties attract difficulties, shall we say, the knock-on effect resonates around and about. There is a feeling of heightened risk, putting businesses off from investing and potential homebuyers from moving there. Thus, there could be a substantial knock-on effect on property values.

Likewise, urban blight – where unused land can signal economic decline.

4. Squatters

Squatters don’t just take up residence in commercial buildings. In the milder months, your land could become an ideal free camping site for all and sundry. Plus, with added illegal activities – there will be an awful lot of mess.

5. Health Hazards and Environmental Impact

Dangerous, unsanitary items, including drug needles (known as “sharps”) and discarded rubbish, can make a site unsafe. And, hazardous waste can pose a health problem to nearby residents and wildlife.

6. Clean Up Costs

As we’ve mentioned before, clearing and cleaning costs are your responsibility as the landowner. This task is difficult, time-consuming, and risky, so only highly qualified experts should undertake it.

So, How To Solve All Of This?

Now that you recognise the threats, how can you reduce them – or ideally, eliminate them altogether?

Prevention is, as the saying goes, better than cure.

In this case, miles better Never a truer word etc. Proper security will save you time, stress, and in the end – money. The solutions you choose will depend on the size of the land in question, its location and any other land or properties surrounding it. So, not everything we suggest will be appropriate. But, given that all vacant land has a perimeter let’s start with more obvious processes:

Perimeter Fencing – Your First-Base Choice

Perimeter fencing is a recognisable, palpable problem-solver. An actual, physical barrier.

It goes without saying that an intruder’s first attempts will be from the outside in. A no-go barrier acts as a deterrent and a block. Most likely, you would have fencing installed alongside other measures, such as mobile CCTV Towers.

There are different types of fencing available:

  • Heras fencing – made from anti-climb mesh. This option is easy to install and can also be used as a barrier around construction sites and buildings.
  • Palisade fencing – heavy-duty fencing made from a metal post with sharp edges at the top of the fence. Nobody is going to want to climb one of these.
  • Electric fencing is a significant and somewhat unpleasant deterrent that acts as a visual warning. It has a fast response mechanism, too, and although it is an investment, it offers a cost-effective, long-term solution in a wide range of environments.
  • Mobile CCTV Towers – The presence of CCTV remains one of the best preventative measures that landowners can take. People are much less likely to enter a premises if they know they are being watched and recorded.
Clearway inView CCTV Tower in situ

Clearway offers high-quality CCTV that works 24/7, providing outstandingly clear and detailed footage with 360-degree views.

This answers a knotty problem: Who’s there, and do they have harmful intent? Sometimes, the answer is no — curious wildlife can be caught on camera, for example. At other times, would-be intruders will have their unwanted, unwelcome moment in the spotlight, with actionable footage that can be used as evidence in police investigations.

Any threats, including fire hazards, are immediately notified to a monitoring centre.

Video Verified Alarms

video verified alarm systems

When used in conjunction with CCTV, video-verified alarms make the most of contemporary technology. You can easily and wirelessly monitor comings and goings and establish the difference between a genuine intrusion and a false alert.

These systems don’t require mains power and have long-life batteries.

Each alarm unit instantaneously detects movement or unusual activity, capturing a series of images as a short video clip forwarded to a monitoring centre. Security responders can then act appropriately, with full knowledge of what’s going on.

They’re definitely worth considering if you have areas where you store machinery, for example.

Concrete Blocks

If there’s a danger of vehicles coming onto your unused land, concrete blocks are your best low-tech security solution; they will solve the problem in one fell swoop.

Strategically placed, they are beyond heavy, meaning no one can move them without access to specialist equipment.

Concrete Barrier HIre

Other Solutions

Talk to Clearway about security gates to restrict entry to authorised individuals, and don’t forget to ask us about an initial security assessment. Unoccupied land may seem more straightforward, but an independent review will analyse what, if any, security is in place now – and identify any weak spots.

What Clearway Thinks

Sometimes, unoccupied land stays that way for a reason: to add open green spaces in urban areas or for environmental considerations. However, with the rising cost of living, intruders are motivated to enter vacant land, especially if it affords opportunities for further activities.

Don’t make it easy for them. Stress less.

Yes, without a doubt, robust security measures are an investment. But – they’re so much more cost-effective than dealing with the aftermath of what can amount to an invasion.

If you have a plot of land that you intend to develop or sell at a later date, Clearway can give you the peace of mind to know that all is well, however far away you may be.

References

  1. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/land-use-in-england-2021/land-use-statistics-england-2021-statistical-release

Gideon Reichental

Vacant Property Security Consultant

Gideon is an experienced property specialist with a commitment to excellent customer service and support. With over eight years dedicated to the niche field of vacant property security and services, Gideon has been at the forefront of developing and implementing best practices and successful strategies for safeguarding vulnerable properties, demonstrating a profound understanding of the complexities involved. His hands-on experience includes managing portfolios of over 200 vacant properties directly, alongside senior management roles overseeing broader portfolios that encompass more than 2000 properties.

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