FIFE COUNCIL has been urged to act quickly after work continued on a Dunfermline building site despite asbestos, arsenic and lead contamination being found.

Planning permission to build homes at the former Magnet showroom in Grieve Street was granted earlier this year with conditions to be met before any work was carried out.

One stipulated an environmental survey should be carried out but information provided by Kirkcaldy-based developers James Property Ltd so far has been deemed insufficient.

John Reid, who lives in Grieve Street, said the local community were in support of the site's development but wanted to ensure it was done correctly.

"What is worrying for the developer or anyone looking to buy a house is, because of the acidity in the soil, it needs a different concrete," he explained. "You have got arsenic and asbestos and lead and whatever else then due to the acidity level in the soil being so high, you need to use a special type of concrete for foundations.

"We don't want a housing development that after 10 years starts to subside because the concrete foundations are bad."

Despite a warning from Fife Council that work cannot take place, residents first alerted council officials back in March to say that workers had been spotted on site.

Work has continued with foundations laid and timber frames have also now been erected.

Mr Reid added: "The council are saying the contamination is a huge concern and that no development should be happening until it is treated, yet the development is happening.

"The council are the only people that can stop it and they don't seem to be doing that."

Advice to planners from a council environmental health officer said an initial report had identified the dangerous contaminants which would require remedial measures and added that acidity in the ground meant "uprated concrete" would be needed for the foundations.

Mr Reid added: "Parents are asking 'Should I be worried about kids playing outside on dry days?' when the dust is going to be kicked up. You really should not be having to worry about whether you can let your kids out to play depending on the weather conditions because a developer is wanting to develop when they should not.

"The local authority, through their own statute, has the powers to award planning permissions then enforce breaches of the planning conditions. I just don't understand why enforcement is not happening."

Local councillor Ian Ferguson said the land was home to a dye factory serving linen mills in the 1920s and 1930s which would have used "horrendous" chemicals.

"It is right in the middle of the street so it is completely surrounded by houses so I understand the concerns all the people have here about this and they are completely justified to be as angry as hell about it," he said.

"Essentially, the council has put an enforcement on them to stop and they have ignored it. I drove past it and they have continued building."

Yesterday (Wednesday), Derek Simpson, the council's development management lead officer, said: "There is a live planning enforcement investigation taking place regarding a breach of planning control at this site.

"Following enforcement investigations and discussion between ourselves and the developer, they have advised us that they've stopped work on site and are committed to complying with the terms of their planning permission.

"We will be checking the site today (Wednesday) to confirm that all works have stopped.

"We are committed to taking any necessary enforcement action, within our powers, to ensure that there are no public safety risks at this site associated with any breach of planning permission.”

A spokesperson for James Property Ltd's appointed Engineering Design Team for the development confirmed that chemical testing and analysis of the soils at Grieve Street have now been completed and reported to Fife Council.

"Limited and localised soil contaminants have been identified and assessed with respect to CLEA guidance (industry standard practice)," he said.

"Low level asbestos containing materials (ACMs) were identified within two of the 30 sample locations within the shallow made ground soils. To put this into perspective, the percentage of ACMs within the soils has been quantified by laboratory analysis as 0.026% or less, by volume.

"The contaminants identified are considered to be low level and typical of those associated with the development of brownfield sites.

"Any low level risks which may be associated with the development of the site may be appropriately managed through the use of mitigation measures as outlines within the report submitted to Fife Council. This includes PPE standard to modern construction sites. Such measures are employed, as minimum standards, by James Properties Ltd.

"The development of the site is considered to represent an environmental improvement to pre-development conditions in line with Fife Council guidance on the development of brownfield sites."