Education bosses have offered reassurances after residents claimed contractors had been removing asbestos from a new free school while children were in attendance.
The Chronicle was last week contacted by neighbours who claimed contractors spent three days removing asbestos from the main building while children attended as normal.
We emailed 10 questions to umbrella body University of Chester Academies Trust (UCAT) to find out about the nature of asbestos problem, precautions during removal and whether parents had been notified.
Children's safety 'not at risk'
UCAT directed us to the DfE who were not prepared to answer any questions but said in a statement: “All due process was followed and the children’s safety was not at risk.”
In addition, residents understand there is now an issue with the drains after workmen arrived with jack hammers to break up an area of car park next to the children’s play area.
One anonymous witness said: “I just find it quite bizarre. You’ve got workmen using jack hammers equipped with ear defenders and the kids are playing 5m away with nothing.”
He said the work was taking place close to a rear wall which crosses the play area which has already been established as unstable and is fenced off for safety reasons. “That back wall is dangerous,” he said.
The development of the school has not been a smooth process from the start.
Originally based in a Northgate Street office building, UCFS was supposed to move into a permanent home within Abbey Square but there were issues with the aging premises.
Murlain House Business Centre in Union Street, originally Love Street School, was identified as an alternative but the main building required planning and listed building consent.
Plans were submitted just seven weeks before the start of the September 2015 term with permission granted on the first day children arrived on site. This was to convert just the west wing of the grade II-listed Murlain House back to a school which, together with the modern Gatehouse building, meant 120 pupils could be accommodated.
In a second phase, the remainder of Murlain House recently gained planning and listed building consent meaning the school can now grow to full capacity with 210 students when fitted out.
And there have been other problems.
The school was told off for erecting temporary fencing and a portable toilet block in the playground without planning permission. More generally, there has been concern about the noise of children playing impacting on residents and an accountancy firm. There have been claims the size of classrooms and outdoor space are inadequate as well as fears about air quality plus highway concerns related to congestion and road safety.
Neighbours report a recent argument between contractors and residents of the adjacent Forest Court retirement flats over the limited on site parking.