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Residents’ fears after developer appeals decision to refuse homes on old toxic waste land

A housebuilder behind plans for 240 homes on the former site of a toxic tip has appealed against a council’s decision to refuse the development.

Plans for the homes on land off Braemar Avenue, Eastwood, were unanimously refused by Broxtowe Borough councillors in December 2022 after 1,000 objections were received.

Now, one resident living near the site says it is “soul-destroying” that the developer, Gleeson Homes, is appealing the decision.

Sue O’Brien, who is part of a campaign to stop the plans, said the group fears that if the land is disturbed, the toxicity from the landfill site could be released into the air.

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Councillors raised concerns in December over the site’s proximity to ‘Matkin’s Tip’, a former unlicensed landfill site.

According to the plans, some of the homes would be built directly on top of the area of the former landfill site, which is now overgrown, while others would be alongside it.

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The view from Sue O’Brien’s garden

A ground report by engineering firm Atkins found that there were toxic metals in the land including zinc, nickel and lead, “at levels considered to be potentially harmful to human health”.

The plans were refused “due to the close proximity of the application site to a former landfill site containing unknown levels of contamination, the proposal is considered to provide insufficient protection for future residents of the
development”.

The refusal notice added: “There is insufficient evidence that the mitigation measures proposed are adequate enough to ensure the development of the land will not pose a risk to human health and safety which would adversely impact on the character of the area.”

The developer said it was “disappointed” with the decision, which went against a recommendation to approve from council planning officers.

Government agency the Planning Inspectorate said the plans will be allocated to an available inspector for a hearing.

Mrs O’Brien, who lives near the site, moved to the area in 2019. At the time she wasn’t aware that the house was near a former toxic tip.

She said she became concerned when she read about residents in Somercotes, Derbyshire, who experienced seizures and stroke-like symptoms which some believed were linked to former landfill sites nearby.

The UK Health Security Agency is investigating “potential exposure to toxic waste” experienced by these residents in Derbyshire.

Mrs O’Brien says that the land is “dangerous”.

She said: “My house backs onto the field where they want to build the new homes so we are very concerned.

“The dust can travel for miles so it’s not just people on the border who are affected.

“When the plans were turned down in December it was like all our Christmases had come at once.

“It was awful to find they put the appeal. It is soul-destroying after everything they’ve done.

“We could have another fight on our hands now. The fight could continue forever until we can get it stopped.”

She added that the new homes would affect the privacy and light of the existing bungalows on Commons Close, which borders the housing site.

She said: “Why don’t they just walk away from it and find somewhere safe to build?

“We’re already over quota for houses in this area. We’re dumbfounded by it all to be honest.

“It’s horrible to think what’s under there and to think we’d be breathing it all in.

“We’ve got four grandkids who come and stay regularly, if the plans were approved we couldn’t have them to stay because we don’t know what’s in the air.”

A Gleeson spokesperson said: “Gleeson were disappointed with the outcome of our planning application in December last year, which was refused despite a recommendation to approve from planning officers, and no objection from the environmental health officer.

“The appeal is currently in the hands of the Planning Inspectorate and Gleeson awaits the results as to whether they see the site fit for residential development.”

A Planning Inspectorate spokesperson said: “The appeal had been received and validated. The appeal will be allocated to an available Inspector as soon as possible and a hearing scheduled.”

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