Objections to Thorp Arch Trading Estate plans refuted by applicant

Thorp Arch residents on the trading estate. (S)
Thorp Arch residents on the trading estate. (S)

Thorp Arch parish council is in the process of submitting another letter of objection to plans to build up to 2,000 houses on the trading estate.

In the most recent letter to Leeds City Council (LCC), the council raised concerns about the contamination on the site and what process is likely to take place to remedy it.

As a former ammunitions factory and industrial site, it is feared that the area will need to be tested to identify any chemicals present and that, should these be disturbed, there is the potential of harm to the people nearby.

Chairman of the Thorp Arch Trading Estate action group (TAG) Peter Locke said: “It is a very special site and much of it has never been developed since it was farmland 60 years ago.

“The rest of it was developed but returned to nature since that time, giving huge opportunity to wildlife, but if they go ahead with the scrape it will destroy everything and that is ecological vandalism.

“If you want to put residential housing on it, as the applicant’s own consultants said, you have to scrape the soil off it so this is a very fine balance because if you scrape the soil off you destroy the lot.”

The possible ‘scrape’ of the site, removing the topsoil to remedy the existence of contaminants, is refuted by applicants Rockspring who have an agreement with LCC to take core samples from across the site for extensive testing before any decision is made on what action will be taken.

Head of UK asset management at Rockspring Property Investment Managers LLP Rod Mordey said: “The fact of the matter is that the estate was making ammunition during World War Two and the production of those munitions ceased some considerable time ago and since then it has been a working industrial estate and retail park.

“It is going to cost us something like £400,000 just to do the initial analysis before we even start the remediation. Until we get those cores back no-one knows what is there and we are not going to do any of that until we have got planning permission.

“We have owned the estate since 1996 and we’re not intending to put anybody at risk through remediation of the site. We will decide on an appropriate manner of response once we know what the issues are.”

Boston Spa parish council chair Robert Wivell said: “If you get the right development on the right sort of land it can reduce demand on prime land so we supported development there. The contamination on the site is a scientific issue and there is a normal engineering approach to this and no doubt it will be done responsibly.”