Contaminated land

Sandy Brow contaminated land - completed investigation

The site known as former landfill, Sandy Brow is situated in the Spotland area. The site covers an area of approximately 11.4 hectares.

The site is currently a public open space (POS) comprising playing fields, football, cricket and lacrosse pitches, surrounded by a mix of residential and commercial properties.


In 2000, Part 2A of the 1990 Environmental Protection Act came into force. This meant we were required to check areas in Rochdale borough for sites which may meet the legal definition of contaminated land. 

Sandy Brow’s use as a playing field and surrounding residential use and other sports and commercial buildings resulted in the site being considered sensitive. We therefore started an investigation to comply with our statutory obligations.


The site was largely farmland in the 19th century with some sand extraction pits and a river flowing through the site. The area became increasingly developed with residential and commercial properties surrounding the site with Rochdale cemetery to the west. 

Landfill activity began in the 1950s with some of the site in the north used as playing fields.  The activity had ceased by the 1970s and the site was reinstated as it looks today.


A consultancy firm completed an environmental ground investigation to assess any potential risk.  The investigation involved drilling boreholes to assess ground conditions and act as monitoring points.

In certain areas it was necessary to take samples in the back gardens of residential properties.

The ground investigation began in November 2013. It lasted 2 weeks and was then followed by 6 months of monitoring.

Read full details about the investigation at Sandy Brow


The ground gas monitoring established the former landfill did not represent a risk to surrounding receptors. However, the soil sample analysis identified certain contaminants within the playing fields and some garden areas which required further risk assessment and intrusive works.

This work was completed and the conclusion was the playing fields and surrounding areas did not meet the legal definition of contaminated land.

View the decision record for Sandy Brow Contaminated Land​​