Shropshire Star

'More assurance needed' over former Telford Eveready battery factory site

People living around the site of the former Eveready factory in Telford need more assurance that the ground is safe, according to a councillor.


Councillor Steve Barnes has asked for planning officers and developers to give more assurances to residents about chemicals that might be in the soil

A decision on the building of 152 homes on the former factory site, off Hinkshay Road, Dawley, was put back at the council's meeting in June after councillors on Telford & Wrekin's planning committee agreed unanimously that they wanted more detailed information.

They said a detailed plan of how contaminated ground will be dealt with must be made clear before housing can go ahead on the site of the former battery factory.

Mark Evans, a resident at Belvedere Court directly next to the site, said a whole host of toxic chemicals were used at the site for 40 years of battery production and residents had seen no proof that the ground was now clean or safe.

Workman had already been on site with diggers kicking up dust, even though permission to start work had not been granted yet, he said.

But Justin Howell, speaking for developers Countryside Properties, said that work was simply to clear vegetation, not building work, and had now been stopped following the raising of concerns.

Now, Councillor Barnes says residents have not been given proper assurances about the safety and says that developers "should take residents with them" as they move forward with the development.

He said: "I don't remember the factory myself, but a lot of the residents do.

"They say that the concrete slab, which was the floor of the factory and is the only part remaining, would have had chemicals from the time when the factory was working spilled on to it.

"Those chemicals could now have soaked into the concrete and into the soil.

"At a public meeting we had back in June, we were told that there is nasty stuff in the ground.

"It may be that the work is safe, but residents don't know that and they need more reassurance.

"We're for progress and it will be great to have these lovely, new houses on the site, but developers just need to work with the residents and take them with them on the development, which is going to take about two years."

Councillor Barnes said residents also have concerns about traffic on the site. He says plans to widen the road and create crossings outside the development will not do much to ease issues further down the narrow Hinkshay Road, which is also home to Telford Hornets Rugby Club and the council's depot, and is likely to see more than 300 cars using the road, when the new homes are occupied.

Outline planning permission for the site was granted back in 2013, and these plans seek to deal with reserved matters, like the design of the homes.

At the meeting back in June, planning committee member Councillor Nicola Lowery echoed concerns about the traffic, she said: "Whilst I appreciate the principle of development has already been established, the current layout and design is an over development of site and the existing highways network is not suitable to accommodate this increase in traffic.

"Hinkshay Road provides access to Dark Lane car park and the Telford Hornets Rugby Club as well as the existing properties so it is an extremely busy road.

"It is extremely narrow in places and there are existing speed issues on this road, therefore it is imperative that we secure the required level of financial contributions to upgrade the highway and improve safety in this area."

The plans will be discussed again by the planning committee at The White House Hotel in Wellington.