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Fighting housing bid on contaminated field will cost council, developers warn

Malvern Editorial 14th Jan, 2015 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

A DEVELOPER has taken their proposal to build on asbestos contaminated land to the Government and threatened the district council faces large costs if they contest the move.

Selbourne Homes has lodged an appeal against Malvern Hills District Council for failing to make a decision on their application for 61 homes at Hospital Lane in Powick within the statutory time frame.

The council’s Northern Area Development Management Committee has deferred the proposal twice for more ground testing to be carried out at the site, a former landfill where asbestos fibres have been discovered in the soil.

The committee discussed the matter last Wednesday (January 7) and declared they would have unanimously rejected the application after Selbourne failed to carry out the second set of tests they had called for.

But Dave Onions, speaking on the developer’s behalf, argued there was no reason to refuse permission because the Environment Agency and Worcestershire Regulatory Services had not objected to house building on the field.

He accused the council of trying to delay a decision until it could show it was meeting its district-wide housing needs and therefore would not need the homes at Powick.

He added: “The site is sustainable. If the council choose not to fight this they will reduce the risk of facing the significant cost implications for barrister’s fees accustomed with going to appeal.”

Council planning officers had previously recommended the application be approved as long as the removal of the asbestos was closely monitored on a daily basis.

But Coun Tom Wells, who represents Powick, questioned who exactly would be responsible for regulation arguing the Environment Agency, Worcestershire Regulatory Services and Health and Safety Executive had ‘wiped their hands’ of the proposal.

He said: “We have a situation where the three statutory consultees are all saying we haven’t got a problem with this. Well I have a huge problem with this. Who is going to enact this condition?”

Coun Elaine Newman, fellow Powick member, said residents who moved into the new homes and wished to carry out their own private modifications such as conservatories would be ‘digging up a death sentence’.

She added: “Thousands of people die a year from asbestos. Is it worth the risk to build on a site which we know contains a large amount of asbestos.

“Is it worth the risk to one person’s health? Is this site so important?”

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