RESIDENTS are hitting back at plans to build new homes on Abingdon Road recreation ground.

A petition and Facebook page titled ‘Save Bertie Place Park’, started by resident Carole Thorne, aim to stop the plans because of dangerous methane contamination in the site's soil and potential flooding risks.

If planning permission is granted, the council will build between 29 and 33 homes on the recreation ground off Bertie Place, with half of them being used as social housing.

Mrs Thorne, who moved to the area six years ago, said that when she spoke to the developers last week she was told that the ground is 'contaminated' with methane gas as it was formerly used as a landfill.

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She said that they have been ‘very secretive’ about the plans and added that they were ‘rude’ and ‘dismissive’ of her concerns.

She added: “This has been very distressing for all of us”.

Methane is a combustible gas and a build-up of it in the foundations of a building could prove hazardous.

Council spokesperson Tom Jennings said that the Bertie Place park has undergone initial tests which showed low levels of methane in the ground, but he confirmed that the site will be further examined in the new year.

At the time of writing, the petition against the plans had reached 224 out of a targeted 500 signatures.

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While Mrs Thorne’s main concern is the potential methane contamination of the site, others are worried that the development would increase the potential for major flooding on the site.

According to the Environment Agency (EA) the ground is in flood zone one – low probability, and flood zone two – medium probability.

While the site has not flooded in recent weeks, houses on Abingdon Road suffered during persistent rainfall.

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Abingdon local Sue Barnes said: “I understand we need social housing but it won’t be safe for people to live in.

“There will be less space for water to drain away.

"Water has to go somewhere and it will go in our homes and ruin them.”

Ms Barnes added that the building site ‘would exacerbate [problems in] the area’ in heavy rainfall season.

However, Mrs Barnes is also worried that building on top of the Bertie Place playground will have a negative effect for locals.

She said: “I can’t speak for other residents but my feeling is that the play area is a community resort for children and younger kids.”

Under the draft proposals, a smaller but more modern play area would be created within the new housing development.

City council officials will be looking to meet with residents to address their questions as soon as possible.