Asbestos at the Urnfield?

Let’s not get all conspiracy-theorist about this, but the Urnfield developer, Tormead School, doesn’t do much to engender local residents’ trust in its construction management operations.

Some seemingly superfluous white plastic fence covering has arrived on the Urnfield in the last few days. It doesn’t seem to serve a construction purpose, too flimsy to be protective, too low (just fence height) to prevent transmission of much material over the fencing, and is only around the entrance area. So what’s going on?

Through a gap in the sheeting, the answer is on the truck parked up. Clearly asbestos has been found somewhere on the site, and the white sheeting must surely be to prevent people from outside the site seeing what’s going on. It certainly can’t serve any public health / protective purpose.

Screening licensed works from public gaze is one approach. One that erodes any remaining trust in the developer and gives rise to a whole host of questions: where is the asbestos? In the pavilion or in the ground? If it’s in the ground, has it been exposed already to the air and if so, for how long? How will it be removed safely? Are there any public health risks for people living next door to the site or to the many people who use the footpaths that run adjacent to the boundary on two sides? Is there any impact on wildlife that live or forage on the site?

Now that’s all fertile ground for conspiracy.

An alternative approach would have been for Tormead to have advised immediate neighbours of the discovery, to reassure them that the material would be handled within the law and with care, and to reinforce this responsible approach through, say, a notice stuck on the entrance gate alerting any passing public as to what’s going on.  That would have built trust in the developer doing the right thing.

By keeping it all, quite literally, under wraps, the school’s approach could be perceived as further evidence that Tormead does not place any value on engagement with the local community around this site. And bear in mind the management agreement for the Urnfield is for 30 years. Buckle up, because this is going to be a long old ride.

Still, the school’s parents must surely be fully in the loop. After all, the ground has been used for sport all term, by Tormead, County School and visiting school teams. People living close to the site and those walking nearby can perhaps take reassurance in that.




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