Reassurances on health after war relics find at building site

December 29 2017
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A HOUSEBUILDER has moved quickly to offer reassurances on health after the discovery of radioactive components on a new homes site.

David Wilson Homes sent out letters and held two meetings to explain to people who have moved into houses at Bishops Green, Wookey Hole Road, and those hoping to complete on house purchases, the steps it is taking to manage any risk.

The move follows the discovery of 16 electrical components buried in a pit in a corner of the former Thales site. These were associated with equipment used in aircraft during the Second World War and contain small amounts of radium, which breaks down to radon, a gas that can pose a health risk if concentrations become too high within buildings.

David Wilson Homes says that this has never been the case at Bishops Green which, as a brownfield site, has been monitored for radon and other contaminants since building work began, but to give householders peace of mind, the company will:

• Install a membrane in every garden, a permeable barrier buried 600mm deep and covered with clean topsoil.

•  Install radon monitors in every home to monitor radon levels for three months, and offer a permanent monitor to those who want one.

• Install extractor fans for those who want one.

“We are going above and beyond current regulations to ensure we give our customers at Bishops Green the peace of mind they deserve. We will be discussing with each owner individually specific time frames but suffice to say we have employed additional people to give this work our absolute priority,” said Ian Menham, managing director of David Wilson Homes.

“Bishops Green is extremely popular with buyers both as a desirable place to live and an excellent investment for the future. We have a further 80 homes to build and sell and it is in all our interests to take a positive view moving forward. We take the view that we have transformed a derelict site in Wells and created an attractive development which is an asset to the whole city.

“Over and above market fluctuations we are confident of a steady rise in prices over the next decade. Peoples’ properties remain their best investment over the long term. Homes at Bishops Green, especially in this sought-after location, will be no exception.”

The pit in which the components were found

The pit in which the components were found

There will be more than 170 homes on the site when work is completed, and about 35 are already occupied.

It is the potential impact on house prices that the residents Wells Voice spoke to are most concerned about.

“I’m not so worried about the health issues, they’ve given us a lot of reassurances about that. My concern is the value of the house,” said Helen Gifford, who lives in Hamiltons Close.

“It’s a nice place to live. We’re really happy here – it would be a shame for the area to get a bad reputation. I think it’s something that’s going to be sorted out and hopefully forgotten about.”

Another resident of Hamiltons Close, who asked not to be named, said: “My only concern is loss of value on the house. A few people are concerned about health – I’m concerned about values.”

A woman living in Penleigh Close, who also asked not to be named, said: “They are very good builders. What they found they have taken away completely, there shouldn’t be any problems. We are very happy here.”

The development falls within St Cuthbert Out parish, and parish councillor Marcel Hayden, who lives nearby, said: “I think David Wilson Homes are doing everything they can to ensure the safety of householders and people on the site. Once the homes are all completed this development will probably be the safest development in Wells as all possible precautions have been taken.”

Mendip District Council has been liaising with the developers about environmental issues but was unable to provide a comment for Wells Voice at the time of going to press.