RESIDENTS fear the construction of 181 homes could unearth anthrax spores buried on a field near Droitwich.

Worcestershire Regulatory Services technicians have written to Wychavon District Council asking for applicant Trustees of the Wimbush Droitwich Settlement to include anthrax in their chemical analysis of the land east of Kidderminster Road in Hampton Lovett.

Anthrax, a severe illness caused by the Bacillus anthracis bacteria, is most common in farm animals like cows, sheep and goats. But the bacteria can live for years in soil and several local residents believe diseased livestock was buried on the proposed development site during the 1960s.

The animals were believed to be buried between the Doverdale Park Homes site and the Droitwich to Snow Hill railway line and local resident Jennifer Lawrenson says she can remember it.

She said: “I have a childhood memory of an anthrax burial pit which I always thought was on that land between the railway and the mobile home park.

“This memory is hazy and possibly incorrect but needs confirming one way or another.”

Another objector Robert Rickard also believes diseased cattle was buried on the field.

In a letter to the district council, Neil Kirby, Worcestershire Regulatory Services technician, said: “Given that the location of the alleged burial is unknown, the sampling regime should cover the whole site and not confined to areas where contamination is suspected.

“The anthrax spore can lay dormant for years in soil so there are health and safety implications, if animal remains are found the Local Authority should be notified immediately.”

The proposals, which should be determined before November 7, have received dozens of objections and a petition against the scheme has raised more than 155 signatures.

Many residents as well as Hampton Lovett parish council also fear the plans would increase the population of the village by 60 per cent leading to a strain on local services.

They say it would also cause traffic congestion and pose a flood risk near the Kidderminster Road.

Christine Ellis-Evans, who conducted a traffic survey during the summer holidays, counted more than 800 vehicles in less than two hours.

She said: “It’s a dangerous road as it is with many cars travelling at speeds well over the limit.

"With so many more cars coming onto the road, somebody could get hurt."

A spokesman for Wychavon District Council said: “We have received a letter from Worcestershire Regulatory Services with regard to the application for land east of Kidderminster Road in Hampton Lovett, and its recommendations will be taken into consideration as part of the ongoing planning process for this application.”

The developer was unavailable for comment.