Concerns over a ‘ticking time bomb’ in estate

Killingworth Stores-proposed site of new homes at West Lane-Killingworth.'REF 3007141463
Killingworth Stores-proposed site of new homes at West Lane-Killingworth.'REF 3007141463

Fears have been raised over a ‘ticking time bomb’ hidden underground on a site proposed for 127 new homes.

Residents have been left horrified after it was revealed there is a ‘risk’ of unexploded munitions on a former military site at Killingworth Moor.

Campaigners against plans for housing on the site have criticised developers Bellway Homes for continuing with the plans and not informing residents.

An unexploded ordnance (UXO) report, produced by consultants as part of Bellway’s first phase for developing homes on the site, says all anomalies should be excavated and investigated.

Justine Nichol, of the campaign group Save Killingworth Moor, said: “Local residents were shocked to find out during the planning application that the geotechnical and geoenvironmental assessment was unable to be completed due to UXO at the site; this is close to housing, a road and a countryside walk.

“The former Ministry of Defence site covers 4.5 acres and was in use from the Second World War until recently, with unspent ordnance and bombs believed to have been dumped at the site in burial pits.

“The UXO report confirms that there is a risk of UXO on the site with two large mass areas being indicated under the site surface.

“We are concerned that over 40 years a substantial amount of bullets, phosphorus bombs (that explode and burn on contact with air), grenades among other ordnance was dumped there and is slowly degrading in the earth, becoming more unstable by the year.

“Local residents are simply staggered Bellway Homes are proposing going ahead with the planning application on a potential ticking bomb.

“Residents are being kept in the dark of the danger to their homes and their children.

“Worryingly there is no information in the planning application as to how they would deal with it. Public safety and that of the contractors appears to have been overlooked.”

A Bellway spokesperson said: “As the site is an ex-MOD munitions store, part of our due diligence process included carrying out a full and detailed unexploded ordinance survey prior to taking ownership of the site.

“The results of the survey highlight that there is a ‘low’ and ‘extremely low’ risk of unexploded ordinance on the area we wish to develop.

“We will implement any recommendations set out in the report, or by the council, during the construction of the development.

“The proposed housing development will occupy 100 per cent of the brownfield/previously developed land, and is exactly the type of development that is encouraged through national and local planning policy.

“Our planning proposal allows for the development of 127 new homes, a parkland area, and extensive landscaping, including the planting of over 200 extra trees, new wetlands and new areas of open space. This will significantly improve the landscape and ecology of the area.”