Aldi told to make occupied site safe
SUPERMARKET giants Aldi have been ordered by city council chiefs to make safe a former derelict prison, renowned for attracting trouble to the area, after squatters moved in at the end of last week, writes Sophie Taylor.
The Greenbank Greenspace community group took over the Longfield House site, also known as the old ambulance station, on Friday and have since vowed to "turn the area into a thriving community space" by creating a safe environment in which to grow fruit and vegetables.
Following a number of visits to the site from council officials, local police officers and fire fighters, Plymouth City Council has now confirmed they are in discussions with the German supermarket giant over the state of the site.
Although the council say discussions with Aldi began before the community group squatters moved in, health and safety officials are now concerned with ensuring the site is secure enough to be lived on.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
A spokesman for the council said: "The Greenbank site has been a problem for a number of years and the council has been in touch with the owners Aldi about its condition.
"The council's planning and building control compliance officers have been in discussion with the company about action it needs to take to make the site tidier and safer.
"This latest round of discussions began several weeks ago, before the current occupation of the site.
"Officers from the Public Protection Service had also recently directed Aldi to take all necessary steps to secure the site on safety grounds, prior to the unauthorised occupation.
"We have also had Public Protection staff talking to those currently on the site to make sure that they are not burning anything that causes a nuisance to people living nearby.
"It must be stressed that this land belongs entirely to Aldi and they are solely responsible for its upkeep, and to ensure it is not used in a way that is harmful to neighbouring residents.
"The council will take all appropriate action to ensure that they meet these important obligations."
Sub-contractors from Bristol were yesterday ordered by Aldi to carry out an assessment of the site to evaluate the cost of making it safe.
It is thought work to secure the site could begin as early as next week.
Andy, 25, one of the squatters leading the Greenbank Greenspace, said: "All we want is for the site to be cleaned up and secure - it's what we have been trying to do ourselves anyway.
"Since Monday we have managed to clear even more rubbish from the site, tidy it further and a local gardener has been so kind as to donate a polytunnel to allow us to grow small crops, and six apple trees to plant."
The Herald contacted Aldi's representatives for a comment but they have yet to respond.