Horsham Town Hall redevelopment delayed due to contamination

SOIL contamination has caused significant delays to the Horsham Town Hall redevelopment project.

Soil experts tested the site last month after contaminated soil was found in a bore at the Pynsent Street end of the site.

In a report to Monday night’s Horsham Rural City Council meeting, technical services director John Martin said five of the eight bores tested were contaminated.

Three of the bores had low level contamination, while two contained medium level contamination.

“The contaminant is petroleum-based, suggesting a link to previous fuel stations on or adjacent to the site,” Mr Martin said.

He said the depth of the contamination varied, with the greatest depth on the western side of the site.

He said treatment was also required along the northern and eastern flanks of the site.

“The consultant is determining the most suitable treatment,” he said.

Mr Martin said the consultant would prepare an environmental management plan. 

“This is so when we do start to remove it, it is safe for the people on the site and for the environment,” he said.

“We hope to have that report by the latter part of next week.” 

Mr Martin said he was confident the budget’s contingency would cover the cost of delays and of removing the contamination.

“It is going to cost a few dollars but the contingency is there,” he said.

Mr Martin said potential soil contamination was assessed in the project’s planning stages.

An initial geotechnical report noted the presence of odours in some inspection boreholes.

“As a result, a second report was commissioned involving further borehole sampling and analysis,” he said.

“This report indicated no issues and the project proceeded on that basis.”

“It is going to cost a few dollars but the contingency is there.''

Technical services director John Martin

Mr Martin said the absence of contamination in three bores had allowed some construction to continue, particularly in the forestage pit area.

The area has been excavated, a concrete floor poured and steelwork constructed.

“We had a big crane on site at the weekend unloading concrete panels,” Mr Martin said.

“Those works were done on a Saturday morning when the adjoining businesses weren’t operating and to remove any possible risks to the public.”

He said site meetings with adjoining landowners resumed last week after being cancelled in May because of delays.

Landowners raised a number of issues, including access for delivery trucks to the rear of Pynsent Street shops; changes to parking times in the town hall east carpark, street sweeping of Pynsent Street; stormwater management; and ensuring the site hoarding was in the correct location.

Mr Martin said council was changing the carpark’s Wilson Street entrance alignment to improve the turning circle for trucks.

He said council was consulting with businesses about changes to parking times and that street sweeping was up to date.

The next adjoining landowners meeting will be on Tuesday at 11am.


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