There is an extremely important meeting to be held in the Village Hall on the 28th September.
Time: 18:30 to 20:30
Representatives of Cotswold District Council, Bovis Homes and Linden Homes will discus many topics.
Nigel Moor has kindly allowed the document to be loaded on this website that explains the concerns of Upper Rissington Residents. Nigel alongside Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP will be presenting the case to Linden and Bovis homes.
Mr Geoffrey Clifton-Brown FRICS MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
As you are aware residents of Victory Fields Upper Rissington have expressed to me for some considerable time their anxieties and concerns about a range of issues related to the construction of houses at this site and the supporting infrastructure. In anticipation of the public meeting to be held in the village on Thursday 28th September 2017 and to help provide an agenda for the meeting, I have brought together these concerns under the following headings:
1. Highways and Traffic
2. Surface Water Drainage
3. Water Supply
5. Open Space and Amenities
6. Construction Management
I am not in a position to confirm the veracity of all these concerns but in my role as a county councillor I have undertook to bring these to your attention and to the county and district councils as well as the developers on grounds of transparency. Dealing with each of these.
Highways and Traffic
1. Implement and complete the recommendations of the Stage 3 Road Safety Audit of the Upper Rissington s278 works carried out on the 27th May 2017 that should include roundabout warning signs on the approaches to the new Barrington Road roundabout and SLOW road marking. We were advised at a meeting with CDC and Bovis/Linden on the 29th June 20917 that this was agreed and plans submitted to the sub-contractor but this work remains uncompleted.
- Pedestrian crossings along the Barrington Road. Extend the footpath past the green gas box which would be ideal to cater for pedestrians crossing from the new houses proposed for Sandy Lane and have an additional crossing at this point. At the 29th June meeting the volume builders agreed that the footpath will be extended as suggested and included in the overall maintenance plan. Provision of the crossing should be negotiated by GCC with the developer of the Sandy Lane site.
- Construction damage to Barrington Road. GCC can use “ extraordinary damage “ claim to have this repaired and resurfaced. The builders agreed that the repair work will be carried out as part of the s278 Agreement prior to adoption but no date has yet been set.
4. The crossing of Longmore Walk over Mitchell Way near the school could be raised and perhaps bricked or white lines painted. This could calm traffic just before the school as well. Same required on Proctor at the intersection with Beechcraft to calm speeding vehicles along Proctor. These are not currently included in the s38 works but residents ask that these concerns be included in the Stage 3 Safety Audit prior to adoption and the measures constructed. Beechcraft/Proctor intersection was on the 2015 plans so the residents want to know why it was removed. The same applies to the main raised table on Mitchell Way between Longmore Walk and Hercules close by the Bus stop
- The crossing over Longmore Walk between Cranwell Close and Kitty Hawk Walk : extend the drive on Kitty Walk by a couple of metres ( hardstanding already exists ) so that residents can access via this route rather than cross the pathway. In this way Longmore Walk is totally pedestrianised from one side of Mitchell Way to the other. GCC have no objection to this change and believe it would improve safety along Longmore Walk but Bovis would not agree to the change. The residents again request Bovis to change their mind. It is simply bad planning to introduce vehicular traffic across what has become a very popular pedestrian route through the estate, particularly to the school, when there is an acceptable alternative. Bovis should share the aspirations of the residents to help Victory Fields become a good example of sustainable place making.
Bollards have been installed on Longmore Walk at the request of the residents to discourage vehicles using the pathway. The bollards need a minimum distance of 1200mm between them to permit wheel chairs/buggys to pass through. Not all achieve this and need to be repositioned. There are many more all over Victory Fields and several narrow pathways where these are blocking access for these users. This was agreed at the June meeting and that the bollards would be subject to inspection and repositioning where necessary but no changes yet introduced.
Dropped curbs are needed across Mitchell Way near the shops. Again it was agreed that this would be considered in the Stage 3 Safety Audit.
Handicap access to the shops. Perhaps half of the steps could be turned into a ramp, or a ramp built at the side of the steps, as the steps are wide enough. Again it was agreed that this would be considered in the Stage 3 Safety Audit.
Mini roundabout at junction of Mitchell Way and Delfin Way needs lighting and signage. This was included in the s38 Agreement and instructions had been given to the sub-contractor but no work yet. A painted circle on this intersection is totally inadequate given the volume of traffic and the proximity of many pedestrians in the vicinity using the bus stop and the shops, a raised roundabout is essential and the residents want to know why this was not planned.
Long stretch of road approaching the school encourages speeding and requires a raised table to discourage. This would be considered in the Stage 3 Safety Audit. Initial plans prepared for the s38 Agreement showed traffic calming along Mitchell Way but these now appear to have been omitted from the agreed adoption plans. At Moreton Park a similar sized estate at Moreton in Marsh, GCC have agreed traffic calming measures and a similar level of calming is needed at Victory Fields. The chicane that has been installed helps but, given the volume of traffic from outside the village visiting the school, this too is insufficient..
Final date for surfacing prior to adoption is required, as a priority by the residents.
Street lighting plan for the estate to be agreed and carried out. Several lamp posts are in the wrong places. This was agreed at the June meeting but there appears to have been no progress since. The residents are intending to withhold Council Tax as, for many, this will be their third winter without street lights and without finished pavements. Walking is extremely dangerous especially around Proctor, Beechcraft, Westland, Cessna, Squirrel, Firefly and Vintage Pair.
Agreement as to which footpaths are to be adopted and where rights of way are to be maintained or accepted. This was agreed and negotiations are underway concerning the adoption of Smith Barry Road and the necessary works to achieve adoption. There is confusion at Hercules too because that appears as an extension to Longmore Walk but it seems to be have been designated a private/unadopted road?
Surface water drainage
14. Agreement as to the future maintenance of SUDS. The pond /reservoir would be included in the open space plan to be maintained by the Upper Rissington Maintenance Company and the remaining SUDS installations by Wessex Water. There remains the question of the adoption of the public open spaces.
- Installation of 200ltr water butts to each house on Victory Fields. There were part of the grey/green water recycling scheme and were to be installed. The question is whether this is still the case or is compensation to be paid.
16. During high demand in hot weather there has been low pressure or no water in the green/grey water supply to the homes on the estate. Pipework apparently undersized and cannot balance out pressure between the two systems. This has prevented the use of toilets as cisterns could not back up and outside water facilities. Residents report that it has been rectified but no information as to whether the fix is sustainable.
- A significant amount of spoil has been placed into bunds around the perimeter of Victory Fields. Residents need to be assured that the testing mechanism is transparent and capable of scrutiny. Concerns about both the testing mechanism and the mitigation/remediation measures proposed have been raised with CDC and enforced and the consultants to the developers and residents still have doubts over the assurances given to them. Idom Merebrook had submitted Revision C of their Remediation Report following sampling of the material brought onto the site which included recommendations on capping of the material and following scrutiny of this report by CDC, officers advised at the June meeting that they were satisfied that there was negligible risk from the material brought onto the site. The residents believe that the imported material appears to be acceptable but the main concern is the use thereof and the inadequate removal and/or mitigation of the materials that were identified as a health hazard from the demolished building comprising the old RAF Little Rissington site.
In the following section I have tried to summarise these concerns
By way of example there is concern that there is inadequate capping (1000mm capping layer require) on the southern playing field which was the location of Stockpile A where Crocidolite and Amosite as well as Chrysotile were reported in the 2013 report by Merebook.
This site being an ex MOD RAF base had old buildings containing asbestos and other toxic materials which are not compatible with human habitation and there has been extensive environmental remediation work on this site. Based on test results posted on the CDC website the levels of Asbestos, Amosite and Crocidolite, are 10 x the legal acceptable levels and residents have expressed concerns that the consultants employed by Bovis do not appear to understand this as it appears that they do not understand what differentiates the various types of asbestos found in the waste material on this site. Consequently both developers and CDC are charged with failure by the residents to comply with the recommendations from the initial remedial investigations and enforcement respectively. CDC have provided to the residents a letter dated 29th August 2017 from Idom Merebrook which attempts to deal with these concerns. For the avoidance of doubt these are set out below.
What is of concern to us now is the fact that statements have been made by members of CDC, on numerous occasions, that the contaminated materials have been removed from this site.
Now having waded through all the information provided it appears that not all the information requested has been offered up on the CD that was sent by CDC to Karen Milroy. We are referring specifically to the Waybills together with Bills of Quantity for the contaminated Materials that were removed from site and transported, we understand, to Moreton in Marsh.
We have been unable to find any reference to these Waybills nor any Bills of Quantity and as we have requested same from Bovis directly we are rather concerned as to the veracity of the claims made by CDC staff members that this contaminated material was indeed removed at all as clearly we are unable to see any proof.
The presence of these contaminants was identified in test results published by CDC on their portal and there appears to be no evidence to support the claims that this material has been removed. Therefore we are now most concerned about the safety of a number of sites designated within the Public Open Spaces for Victory Fields and especially the remediation and final dressing of those sites with regard to the recommendations made by the respective specialist consultants employed by CDC and the Developers.
Given that IDOM Merebrook Technical Competency is in question with regard their initial failure to correctly identify the morphology of the various types of Asbestos and given that CDC failed to identify this error initially and only after our group queried the error, suspicion has increased significantly as to the what has been done at Upper Rissington with regard to the effective remediation of this site.
Whilst Serpentine Asbestos, Chrysotile is recognised as the least harmful, the failure of Idom Merebrook to understand the morphology of Asbestos had led them to seek out and focus on the wrong type as it is the Ampibole Asbestos, the Crocidolite and the Amosite, which have the shorter and more brittle fibres that create a far higher level of toxicity. Reading the remediation report and the subsequent revisions the thread and focus does not appear to have changed and this too has created more concern as the initial levels identified in the results indicated a significantly more sophisticated approach for making the area safe involving high Viz membranes etc and this has not taken place as per the recommendations of the internationally respected WSP group that prepared the original site remediation plans.
For a case to use as an example please focus on the Playing field Area as defined in the original S106 dated 2013 which appears to have now been converted into a Wild Flower Meadow which clearly is a different usage to a Football pitch which required 1000mm of topsoil and this has not been placed on that area! The residents are concerned too that this playing area requires more testing in any event. Questions are also raised as to why this area is so much higher than the naturally occurring landscape within the immediate vicinity.
On the 16th August 2017 Cllr Nigel Moor was provided with photographs of raw un-remediated asbestos stacked behind the Watch Tower on Victory Fields. It was pointed out by the residents that the material should not be exposed to the elements let alone up at this altitude where the wind blows most of the time. The residents went to that stack and have removed a piece to prove that it was still there on September 5th.
In August the Case Officer Deborah Smith responded to queries from Mr Kelvin Walker and enclosed a reply from Idom Merebrook and advised that Merebrook now has the information needed to compile the final validation report but the final iteration of the report will only be available when all graduation/re-grading work as required by the Council to address landscaping issues has been completed – the two issues are clearly inter-related.
The letter dated 29th August from the consultants to Deborah Smith concluded. We confirm the findings of the stockpile asbestos contamination report issued in February 2013. These stockpiles were present before groundworks commenced on site. Soils, known at the time to contain asbestos (including any containing visible pieces of asbestos) on the site, were removed by the demolition/remediation contractors in October / November 2013 and we were provided with a copy of the waste tickets. These will be presented in our final validation report for the site but were also issued to Karen Toomer on 28 June this year for information. The stockpile designations A through to L were also used for the newly-formed heaps of material that were left following completion of the build, however there is no relation between these stockpiled soils and those which were investigated in 2013. In light of new industry guidance (specifically Asbestos in soil and made ground: a guide to understanding and managing risks, CIRIA 2014) published during the course of the development, the remediation method statement addendum was issued in order that the newly formed heaps of material, which were characterized by the sampling exercise undertaken in October 2016, could be appropriately re-used within the development.
The original planning appeal decision includes a condition that the scheme must ensure that the site will not qualify as contaminated land under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in relation to the intended use of the land after remediation. Residents need reassurance that the final scheme complies with this condition imposed by the Inspector. At the June meeting Cllr Nigel Moor was advised that the original materials had been taken away from the site during construction and CDC advised that the finished scheme would comply with this condition. However the evidence provided to him on the 16th August 2017 indicates that not all of the original materials were removed from the site during construction.
Open space and Amenities
- Aspect are preparing detailed plans including cross sections in accordance with the parameters agreed on Landscape Drawing 5109.LB.003 Dated 04/01/13.
However an unseen development scheme, dated Dec 2016, suggests that key amenities like the Bowling Green, the Senior Cricket pitch, trim trails and play areas have either been reduced or indeed completely omitted . At the June meeting the developers had stated that In the light of comments received it had been agreed to revert to the original plans and specification as shown above. Nevertheless there are concerns that latest (Dec 2016) landscaping plans indicate that Bovis is working to an unapproved landscaping scheme which excludes almost 50% of the amenities committed under the S106 legal document and associated landscaping plans dated 2013. When challenged they are refuting the claims of residents but the contractors are blatantly working to the Bovis plan not the legal document.
A new issue has arisen which has identified that the Bovis built homes on Mitchell Way should have Dry Stone Walls in the front gardens facing the road but as these can only be found on a plan dated 2012 it may have been superceded. Nevertheless this too demonstrates a lack of transparency in the CDC planning and also lack of enforcement from CDC. Furthermore, it has now come to light that some 60% of all the Bovis built properties have not been built according to the approved Materials Dispersion Plan regarding the materials used whether it be Reconstituted Stone, Render or Red Brick for the building and the most frequent breach being the type of roofing material used where it appears that 70% of all houses have Spanish slate Roofs whilst the plans indicate Artificial Stone tiles should have been used! Now whilst Bovis have written to its clients advising of the intent to apply for retrospective planning which they expect to succeed, many residents are in the process of consulting their solicitors with their intent to charge Bovis with miss- selling given that the cost differential between Slate and Artificial stone has been estimated at approximately £15K per house.
- Living conditions have been unacceptable for far too long with priority given to subsidised housing areas leaving private buyers to suffer unacceptable and often intolerable conditions with pavements unusable, contractors vehicles, with muddy tyres parking on unpaved pavements in front of occupied houses, no street lighting and uncontrolled speeding.
Certain roads have been declared Private and Homeowners are furious to find Public Footpaths directed to these roads. This appears to be miss selling by Linden Homes and poor coordination at planning. Some homeowners have instructed solicitors and others are in the process of doing so.
Bovis is aware and is planning to ensure that a subsidiary will take ownership of the Public Open Spaces and residents are concerned that they will have no say in this company and be unable to challenge the fees charged. There is a settlement period of 5 years after the site has finally been completed, specified as commencing 12 months after the last house has been sold.
Within the original village there is concern and disappointment that the upgrade to natural gas that was flagged up during the consultation on the initial development scheme has not been carried out and residents wish to know if there is to be any progress made on this..
This is unashamedly a long and exhaustive list. It demonstrates what I have felt from the outset when I was first elected five years ago which also saw the beginning of construction on the site that all levels parish, district, county and developers, there has been insufficient capacity to deal with the challenges that a scheme of this size brings. I am very familiar with the site for I rented an office at the business centre in the village for seven years, and at that time there was real enthusiasm for the scheme and the benefits that it could bring to the village. Some of these have materialised but in the remaining period of the project what is now required from all parties is a clear timeline and commitment to deal with the issues identified above.
Cllr Dr Nigel Moor