FEARS have been raised over plans for a development of retirement homes on the site of a former filling station because of "unknown health risks" due to contamination.

Churchill Retirement Living has applied to South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, to build 29 apartments including communal facilities, car parking and landscaping on the site of the old Georgetown petrol station on the corner of Foxhall Road and Broadway. The Shell filling station was demolished in 2018.

The site of the three-storey L-shaped building saw over 1,600 tonnes of potentially contaminated material removed when it was demolished and replaced with fill material.

READ MORE: Plans for retirement apartments in Didcot are not needed say residents

Herald Series: The bedrooms range from one to two bed.The bedrooms range from one to two bed.

Investigation work was carried out in January, including excavations to test the area for pollutants. Tests were also undertaken on soil and groundwater by Arcadis, a global engineering company. The results showed an exceedance of petroleum hydrocarbons – the result of oil, petrol and diesel pollution – were found in the groundwater.

The visible pollution was described in the report as "black staining with an odour" and was said to be particularly present in the north-west corner of the site.

Also found were small quantities of mercury, naphthalene and nickel.

Arcadis noted that findings would pose a potential risk for future residents, construction workers, and maintenance staff.

Offsite workers in commercial properties adjacent to the site could also be at risk as well as visitors, neighbouring residents and nearby allotment users.

However, Arcadis added that the risk of direct contamination was very low and unlikely. It said there was a medium risk of contamination through inhalation.

READ MORE: Plans for new retirement village in Didcot to help free up homes for younger people

Herald Series: The site the garage was at until 2018.The site the garage was at until 2018.

An environmental protection officer for the planning authority and Vale of White Horse District Council agreed and said the risks needed to be addressed further.

Officer Darren Detheridge added: "[It is] not clear what risks are outstanding with potential pollutant linkages to human health and controlled water listed."

Plans for the retirement homes, which would include an outside courtyard, a concierge reception, a lounge and more, were submitted in March.

Developers suggest that the village will create 72 construction jobs, 80 supply chain jobs, two direct jobs and three supported jobs.

Herald Series: Proposed development siteProposed development site

READ MORE: 'Proposed retirement apartments in Didcot could free up 58 homes', says developer

However residents are concerned the proposal is "over-development" and that Didcot already has provisions for older people.

The district council hopes to decide by Friday, June 14.

The developer was approached for a comment but failed to respond.


Read more from this author

This story was written by Gee Harland, she joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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