Beds, Herts & Bucks

Two schools close in Bedfordshire over demolition fears

Building being demolished Image copyright Andrew Cruise
Image caption Demolition work began on the land on Saturday morning

Two schools have closed after a developer broke planning rules by bulldozing a nearby building.

The demolition work, close to Robert Bloomfield Academy and Shefford Lower School, in Shefford, Bedfordshire, began on Saturday.

Developer Black Horse Residential had not been given permission for the work by Central Bedfordshire Council.

About 1,400 pupils attend the schools which were closed over safety concerns.

More on this and other news from Bedfordshire

The site is known as the "old lower school" and was originally owned by the council before being sold on to the developer.

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Media captionTwo schools close in Bedfordshire over demolition fears
Image copyright Andrew Cruise
Image caption The schools closed as heads decided it was not safe for pupils to attend on Monday

A digger moved in on Saturday and began knocking down buildings.

On Sunday, parents of pupils at both schools were told they would be closed on Monday.

"We have been advised that the old school buildings have started to be demolished on the Old Lower School site," notes on social media and the school websites said.

"A number of concerns and unconfirmed risks concerning the safety of the site have emerged today, the safety of the boiler room which is now partially demolished and a potential asbestos risk," the head of Robert Bloomfield said.

Image copyright Andrew Cruise
Image caption The council's building control team is checking the site

Subsequently the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said any asbestos had been removed before demolition work started.

A spokeswoman for the council said: "The developer did not follow the correct process in respect of planning."

She said the developer did not need planning permission but needed to tell the council before the demolition work started.

The firm also had to give the council 28 days to "review the developers proposals, put the necessary conditions in place and inform local residents about the work", she said.

The council is discussing the planning issues with the developer and looking at what action is needed.

The BBC has contacted Black Horse Residential, which is based in Ampthill, but the developer has yet to comment.

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