A MOTHER fears for her children’s health if a major development on the site of a former gasworks goes ahead.

Cathy Archer, who lives near the old gasworks in East Brighton, said she is “seriously concerned” about potential health hazards if plans are approved to build four blocks of flats at the site.

St William, part of The Berkeley Group, wants to build between 600 and 700 homes across two hectares of land at the junction of Marina Way and Roedean Road.

Cathy said: “I’m concerned as a parent but also for all of the community.

“We are looking at potentially really serious health hazards going on for years. To build four tower blocks they are going to have to dig very deep excavations in this contaminated land.

The Argus: AGHAST campaigners at a socially distanced meeting about the development earlier this yearAGHAST campaigners at a socially distanced meeting about the development earlier this year

“Research shows these contaminants can travel up to a mile around.

“I’m seriously concerned for my kids and for others in the area. There are three schools and a college near here. The Steiner School is literally opposite the site.”

It comes after residents in Southall, West London, began crowdfunding for a legal challenge against The Berkeley Group, following two years of complaints about the company’s development on the site of a former gasworks.

Residents reported a “petrol-like odour” and symptoms including breathing problems, nausea and mental confusion.

In August, campaigners called on the government to investigate the health impact of the redevelopment.

Cathy is part of the Action on Gasworks Housing Affordability Safety and Transparency (Aghast) campaign group, which is crowdfunding for an independent planning consultant to assess the site and challenge St William’s plans.

The campaign has so far raised £1,645 of its £6,000 target.

Cathy said: “Berkeley will supply an in-house consultant who is not independent.

“We’re not against all housing, but we want to reduce the scale and density of the development.”

The Argus: Photo by AGHAST campaigner Charles HarrisonPhoto by AGHAST campaigner Charles Harrison

Val Vizor, another AGHAST member who lives in Cliff Road, said: “It’s really quite scary. Unless we’re armed with research we are not going to be listened to.

“We desperately need to be able to pay a consultant to assess the impact the development will have on the neighbourhood, as the gasworks will be torn down.

“The dangers of the poisons underground is what I’m personally most worried about.”

St William had been due to submit a planning application to Brighton and Hove City Council next month, but has now delayed this until spring next year, to allow more time for consultation.

As well as flats, the development would also include about 2,000sqm of work space, residential gardens and podium car parks.

The Argus: A map of the site for the planned development. Photo: St William/Berkeley GroupA map of the site for the planned development. Photo: St William/Berkeley Group

The development web page states: “Due to its historic use the site contains contamination that will be treated as part of the redevelopment to bring it back into beneficial residential and public use.”

A spokeswoman for St William said: “These works are highly regulated and will be closely monitored and approved by the authorities, including Brighton and Hove City Council and the Environment Agency.”

A council spokesman said: “We understand residents being concerned about health and safety issues relating to plans to redevelop the gasworks site.

“At the same time we are aware of the successful decontamination of sites such as that at Kings Cross in London.

“Any application would be carefully considered by our planning committee and any approval would be subject to stringent planning conditions to address land contamination.

“Remediation is highly technical, regulated and is licensed and overseen by the Health and Safety Executive.”

To donate to the AGHAST campaign visit the crowdfunding page.

To read more about plans for the development, visit brightongasworks.co.uk.