A developer behind the transformation of a former Stockport mill and chemical factory has been stopped from building more homes until further remedial work is completed.
Stockport council secured a High Court injunction against H&H Homes after claiming there was insufficient evidence that necessary clean-up work had been carried out at Cheadle Mill, the site of the former Bleachworks.
Almost all of the homes have been built and are now occupied, but the revelations have prompted concern amongst residents that they have bought properties on still-contaminated land.
The court order, signed off by a judge this week, requires H&H to submit a new planning application for the site by July 2020 - almost 14 years since it was originally approved - before construction can start up again.
If accepted for a second time, remediation work must begin within 28 days.
Coun David Meller, Stockport council’s cabinet member for economy and regeneration, praised residents and officers for their patience throughout the dispute.
He said: "I'm not prepared for residents and the council to be seen as a soft touch and this shows that, when necessary and where possible, we'll do whatever we can to support and back residents from being taken advantage of.
“I'm very aware of the stress and anger that's been caused by this.
“Council officers, residents and I will be following the progress of this application very, very closely over the coming months."
Legal representatives of Jason Alexander, director of H&H, said their client was ‘very pleased’ to have come to an agreement with the council.
The planning application for 42 homes was approved in 2006 on the condition that the site was cleared of contamination to the satisfaction of the local authority and the Environment Agency.
Documents obtained by the Local Democracy Reporting Service through a Freedom of Information request show that H&H had removed unsaturated soils during construction before appointing consultancy firm Remada.
Remada, and its subcontractor Regenesis, carried out groundwater remediation between January and July 2017 and were required to provide a report showing their work.
But in an email to the Environment Agency, Remada said they had not received payment from H&H and had not released the report, throwing the development’s planning credibility into question in the eyes of Stockport council.
When the report was eventually released both authorities were ‘far from satisfied’ with the work that had been done.
Remada said that while they could ‘understand the annoyance and frustration’ with the developer, they felt that remediation had been correctly carried out ‘within the scope of our appointment’.
In May this year, Stockport council took out an injunction against H&H Homes stopping all development, marketing and land sales at Cheadle Mill until further notice.
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The legal case against Mr Alexander and his business partners was brought to the Manchester Civil Justice Centre for a two-day hearing on Monday and Tuesday.
Both parties came to an agreement that a new planning application - and further remediation - was needed before building work could continue.
Christopher McNall, representing Mr Alexander, described the outcome as ‘very sensible and pragmatic’.
He told the court: “My client is very pleased to have worked with the local authority to have brought this dispute to an agreement.
“They look forward to working further in cooperation with the council and officers to provide much-needed homes for people in Stockport and to bring reassurance to all those living there.”
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