AN ALLOTMENT site that was closed eight years ago because of contamination should finally reopen in the spring.

Claypitts Allotments, off London Road, Bicester, was shut after soil was blighted by waste from a former dump at the allotment site.

And drain problems, newts and badgers have all contributed to the delay in reopening.

Oxfordshire County Council had agreed to clear up the site, which is owned by Cherwell District Council, as part of a neighbouring care home development.

But before work could start it had to buy some land from Cherwell, sort out legalities over access and drainage, and move a badger sett.

Then in 2008 Great Crested Newts, a protected species, were found at the site and there was a further two-year delay while the newts were moved.

Now, work to clear the contamination is complete and Bicester Town Council, which lease the site, is about to agree a cash settlement to enable it to bring the plots back into use.

Town councillors agreed “in principle” to accept £45,000 from developer WS Atkins, which is building the care home, to get the site ready.

The council has a 140-person waiting list for allotments in Bicester, and the Claypitts site will offer 60 plots.

At a meeting last week, Lynn Pratt said: “It’s good these allotments are nearly back on stream. We have a waiting list for them and hopefully by spring we should be up and running with them.”

But councillor Les Sibley was concerned £45,000 will not be enough to get the allotments back into use.

Chris Johnson, the town council’s outdoor and activities manager, said: “The money will be used to reinstate the area to plots. This will include many items such as paths, fences, weed management, gates, water feed, noticeboards etc.”

But before any plots are leased to residents, town councillors requested a certificate proving the site is fit for use as allotments.

Oxfordshire County Council say it has removed any hazardous material and put 600mm of new soil on the site, and the work has been approved by both Environmental Health and the Environment Agency.

Spokesman Marcus Mabberley said: “The remediation was carried out in accordance with a comprehensive remediation strategy approved by the Environment Agency and Environmental Health.