No million pound makeover for Nailsea's scruffiest town centre site

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By Carol_Deacon | Wednesday, January 02, 2013, 13:00

The best Nailsea can hope for is a bit of tidying up at the neglected glassworks site on the edge of the town.

Very little has been done to the green mould of land between the Royal Oak Garage and Tesco since it was voted Nailsea's worse 'grot spot' in a parish survey several years ago.

Nailsea Town Council is currently exploring funding opportunities in a bid to try and improve the outlook on a prominent corner of the High Street.

But any thoughts of rebuilding the 18th industrial cone as a working museum are pie-in-the-sky, confirmed the town clerk Ian Morrell.

He said: "It would cost millions and there would be no funding available for a replica building."

The land is owned by North Somerset Council who is willing to sell it to the town council for a nominal sum upon completion of an improvement scheme.

In 1788 entrepreneur John Robert Lucas established the glassworks at Nailsea which became the fourth-largest in the United Kingdom during its nearly 100 year operation.

It produced low grade bottles and windows although crafted glassware made by 'friggers' at the end of their shift are now collector pieces.

Most of the old works are buried under the supermarket car park.

English Heritage has protected the buried remains including those of the cone complex, winding engine house and horse whim at Millennium Park by giving the area scheduled monument status.

Nailsea Town Council would like to see the derelict site, which has had past problems with rats, landscaped and English Heritage Lottery Fund may be willing to help with a grant.

But before this goes ahead 200 tonnes of contaminated waste has to be removed from the site.

Mr Morrell said: "We need some more advice about the contamination survey and then the key requirement will be to get a costing for infilling and protecting the archaeological remains.

"It is critical that we know what the costs will be so the town council can decide whether or not to take this any further.

"The constraints on the site, as a result of its status as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and the need to protect the archaeology make it extremely unlikely that any commercial development of the site will be financially viable."

A town council appointed design team has developed a landscaping scheme that would meet English Heritage's requirements and bring the site into public use.

However, the first phase of any improvement works is to protect the archaeology by in-filling.

The cost of this is potentially prohibitive and it is highly unlikely that this will attract grant funding.

And before work can start about five lorry loads of dirt contaminated with arsenic, lead, zinc, mercury, copper and chemical residues from burning coal will have to be removed.

A report to the council said: "These areas do not present a health hazard and can be covered by new material to protect the archaeology."

However, there is one localised 'hotspot' which requires the removal of hundreds of tonnes of polluted soil classified as 'non-hazardous but non-inert'.

Mr Morrell added: "The next stage is to get the quantity surveyor to estimate the cost of the in-fill based on a detailed specification for materials and depths agreed with English Heritage."

Proposals for the glasswork site had previously included a development of offices, home and shops with Edward Ware Homes.

But as a result of the economic downturn the plans were shelved.

      

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