Subsidence problems at Leighton’s closed Tidy Tip need ‘significant’ work

Aerial imagery of the Leighton Buzzard Tidy Tip
Aerial imagery of the Leighton Buzzard Tidy Tip

‘Significant’ measures are being taken to mitigate major subsidence problems at Leighton Buzzard’s Tidy Tip - but Central Beds Council says the site isn’t in danger of closing permanently.

The Shenley Hill Road tip, a former landfill site, shut at 5pm on Sunday (July 17) to allow modernisation work to begin, with the refurbishment likely to take around six months.

One user of the tip had claimed that he has been recently told by an on-site manager that the refurbishment might not go ahead as the council had to do “stability tests” by boring down into the ground.

He claimed: “If it fails this test then the site is likely to close permanently. Hopefully that test has now been done and they are going ahead with the refurb.”

A Central Beds Council spokesman confirmed there were subsidence issues which would be tackled during the redevelopment.

She said: “The Leighton Buzzard site has suffered from subsidence due to its location on a former landfill site. The council’s strategy to address the problem was to ensure that the refurbishment works included significant measures to remediate and overcome this. Closure has never formed part of this strategy.

“We have undertaken pre-works assessment of the ground conditions and appointed a specialist designer to ensure that the most appropriate solution was developed.

“This work will be supported by a pre-loading exercise ahead of the main construction phase, where we will be monitoring any movement in ground levels and confirming ground conditions.”

The council has also come under fire for the lack of notice it gave residents of the temporary closure given it was part of a scheduled refurbishment programme across various Central Beds Council tips.

The spokesman countered: “The closure of Leighton Buzzard Waste Recycling Centre is linked to the re-opening of the Ampthill site. Whilst forecasts were made as to when the Ampthill site would be completed, there are many factors outside of our control such as the weather that prevent confirmation very far in advance.

“We were also hoping that some of the work we need to do at Leighton Buzzard prior to the build commencing could have be completed whilst the site remained open but only recently found that this wasn’t possible and this has brought the site closure date forward by several weeks.

“As soon as we were aware of this and confident of the dates, steps were taken to get the message out to residents.

Town councillor Karen Cursons said she initially, as a matter of urgency, wanted a temporary site set up for residents, who now face a trek to Ampthill or Dunstable to dispose of their waste.

But she said: “I have spoken to Central Beds Council and understand to have a temporary site you need a licence so you cannot find a plot and set up without it. I also understand there is guidance on the CBC website and leaflets will be handed out. I have expressed my concerns about the notice given to residents. It is a fair criticism.”

Some residents are also fearful that the closure will increase the risk of fly tipping.

But the spokesman said: “It’s our belief that most users of ‘tidy tips’ are not the type of people who feel it appropriate to fly-tip and those who choose to fly-tip do so regardless of the whether a sites are open or closed.

“Whilst the Biggleswade and Ampthill sites have been closed for redevelopment we haven’t witnessed an increase in fly-tips, however we are being extra vigilant and have resource in place that we can call on should it increase. Fly-tipping is an offence and anyone found doing so will be prosecuted.”

The spokesman also revealed the council is in the process of looking for an alternative site for garden (green) waste for one day over the weekend and will confirm details if it is able to secure a suitable location.

When the Leighton Buzzard site reopens in the New Year, it will have an improved layout and a modern split-level design that will allow residents to more easily dispose of their waste into containers from an elevated platform. Residents will also be able to recycle a wider range of materials there, including hard plastics.

But the council has dismissed suggestions that it is looking to introduce an automatic entry system at Leighton tip, whereby residents would have to tap in their postcode to prevent those outside the distict using the facility.