Discontented residents of Heslington village have accused the University of turning Heslington Church into a “bomb site”.
Work on a new road being built across the front of the Church, located opposite Heslington Hall, ceased in December after UCS Civils Ltd, the contractor responsible for building the new roads around Heslington East, went into administration.
Mounds of earth currently piled up and cordoned off directly in front of the Church have sparked anger amongst the villagers.
Jeffrey Stern, a Parish Councillor, commented: “They may have had problems with the contractor, but the Church has been looking like a building site for too long.
“To leave the Church looking like a building site for so long shows that the University has a complete lack of regard for the villagers.” Stern continued: “The University does have the capacity to tidy the area up until the reconstruction recommences. This at least would give the Church some of its dignity back.”
Harry Telfer, former Chairman of the Church Council, has described how worshippers at the Church are becoming increasingly unhappy.
He commented: “It is not very pleasant for people attending burials to effectively be stood on a building site.”
The building of the new road in front of the Church has been a heavily contested issue since the University announced its Heslington East expansion plans in 2006.
The road is being built across Dean’s Acre, a piece of land given to the University in the early 1960s by the Dean of the Minster, with the pre-condition that it would never be built on.
However, when the University applied for planning permission for the Heslington East expansion, they also applied for permission to build a road across Dean’s Acre. Stern claims that, despite the villagers’ protests against the plans, the University has disregarded the pre-condition, and, “decided to build across the land anyway”.
The University has now employed a new contractor who is due to recommence the building of the new roads after the Easter break. Stern stated: “There was an option to build the road around Dean’s Acre. The University considered this before deciding it would be too expensive.”
David Garner, the University Press Officer, commented: “We are in the process of confirming the contract with a new contractor and work is scheduled to start in April and finish in July. We have focused our efforts on securing a new contractor to complete the work as swiftly as possible.”