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Plans which would see 180 affordable homes built on contaminated land in a North Derbyshire village now peppered with new developments have been submitted

Plans which would see 180 affordable homes built on contaminated land in a Derbyshire village now peppered with new developments have been submitted.

Miller Homes and Futures Housing Group are looking to build 180 homes off Stanley Street in Somercotes.

Outline approval was given to the project by a Government planning inspector at appeal in 2020, following refusal from Amber Valley Borough Council, and now the firms are seeking to approve the final details.

A decision will be made by the council in the next few months.

The new application which seeks to tie up these details says that the site would include 10 two-bed bungalows, 57 two-bed houses, 104 three-bed houses and nine four-bed houses.

Of these, 90 would be available for affordable rent – 80 per cent of the local market rate – and 90 would be shared ownership, in which patients buy a portion of the property and rent the rest.

The Stanley Street is widely known to be extensively contaminated with investigations carried out on behalf of several housing companies over the past decade, with Gladman hiring RSK to conduct studies as part of the outline approval for the site.

RSK had found that the homes would have to be built on suspended floors to avoid the widespread risks presented by harmful substances on the site, which could lead to harm, explosions and death.

This largely relates to harmful gases, some of which link to the area’s previous use for coal mining.

It extends towards two historic landfill sites known was LS01 and LS41, the first of which had been the site of toxic waste deposits across several decades – entirely unchecked due to lax legislation at the time.

Harmful substances linked to waste deposited in the site have been identified as leaching from the historic landfills into the surrounding area.

Miller Homes instructed ground investigation firm GRM Development Solutions to carry out further investigations as a result of the harmful substances found by RSK and the conditions of the outline approval which mandate further studies before work can start.

This included ground gas and water monitoring, a deep borehole investigation and further soil sample testing in areas where asbestos was found close to the surface of the site.

GRM confirms that gas protection measures would be required on site and says gas monitoring is still being carried out.

A report submitted by Miller Homes as part of the application says: “This proposals seek to add to the character of Somercotes and respect the local distinctiveness.

“The design proposal creates feature areas that are unique to the scheme, but also reflect the identity of the local vicinity.

“The proposals aim to make the most efficient use of land that is appropriate to the nature and setting of the site.

“The scheme is landscape led. Hedgerows and trees are largely retained around existing site and field boundaries and a series of green spaces and corridors have been proposed to create attractive features within the development and provide ecological enhancement.”

A statement from the firm says it aims to start work on the site in the second half of 2023.

Meanwhile, a statement from estate agent Savills says the scheme would result in more than £1 million being paid by the developer for improvements to schools, health facilities, travel, play areas and sports facilities.

A Government inspector approved the 180-home scheme in November 2020, with the council having backed out of all objections based on contamination – despite this being a key issue raised by elected members.

The Diocese of Derby owned the Stanley Street site but has repeatedly ducked questions surrounding contamination.

Previous plans from housebuilder Taylor Wimpey on the Stanley Street location are believed to have been withdrawn due to contamination issues.

It and the diocese have repeatedly refused to disclose the ground investigation report which led to this response.

The borough council has confirmed that thousands of tonnes of toxic materials were dumped in the LS01 tip from 1948 until the 1970s completely unchecked.

During this 24-year period, the council said “local authorities had no information on the wastes being deposited on site”.

As part of the Gladman’s Stanley Street investigation expert firm RSK confirmed that the borough council had “received claims” that radioactive caesium 133, cobalt 60, carbon 14, strontium 90 and uranium 234 had been dumped at the former landfill.

Amber Valley also confirmed to RSK that “tipping material from Coalite” had been approved by the county council at the former landfill.

It is alleged that this material included what is described as “the most toxic dioxin of all” by the United States Environmental Protection Agency – 2,3,7,8-tetrachloro-p-dibenzo-dioxin.

Of the Stanley Street site, RSK also said toxic dioxins and furans – cancer-causing chemicals used in industrial processes – have also been found on the site, the extent of which, it said, “remains unknown”.

It had also said that dangerous gases and groundwater can travel through mine systems – and that an extensive former mine system had been found under the site. If these gases rise they can become trapped in confined areas – which is where they can pose a risk of asphyxiation and explosion.

An artist\’s impression of the Stanley Street development. Image from CSA Environmental. 
Workers from Central Alliance were drilling into the ground in fields close to the former waste dump to check for ground quality.
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