Building work on a new nursery will finally continue, six years after work was halted because 30 skeletons were found buried at the site.

Great Chesterford Parish Council has now secured additional funding to complete the project which was started and then stopped in 2018.

Archaeologists will soon review the development site – situated around 150 metres to the east of the ancient hill fort at Great Chesterford built during the time of the Roman conquest of Britain.

Saffron Walden Reporter: The site where the skeletons were unearthed in Great ChesterfordThe site where the skeletons were unearthed in Great Chesterford (Image: LDRS)

The work has been dogged with problems ever since the decision was made to build a new nursery on land gifted to the parish council – albeit with a covenant it had to be used for educational purposes.

A build contract was entered into by a build delivery company for the nursery provider and work commenced in 2018 under a licence as the lease terms were being finalised.

The project has been stalled since the end of 2018 when the parish council terminated an initial agreement, after the relationship between the nursery provider and the nursery delivery company had “irreparably broken down”.

At the same time it also became clear there was a “very serious archaeological issue” when grounds works carried out to install a ground source heat pump resulted in about 30 Roman skeletons being “destructively unearthed”.

An assessment of the partially-constructed building in 2020 found “serious defects” – it is believed that the new nursery will have to be partially rebuilt to rectify the problems.

Essex County Council intervened and abruptly stopped building work after the relationship with the nursery provider broke down and the discovery of the skeletons, terminating the funding agreement with the nursery provider.

The parish council is now securing £1.4m of funding for a new nursery in Great Chesterford, with hopes to start work shortly.

The total cost of a new 74-place nursery on land owned by the parish council has been estimated at £1.78m. Of that around £423,000 will be made via Essex County Council through grants and Section 106 monies.

A parish council spokesperson said: "Great Chesterford Parish Council has been working with Essex County Council for a number of years to deliver this much-needed project for the community.

“We are delighted that the funding has been signed off by Essex County Council and are now in a position where we can move forward.


“Additional funding streams for the project have been sourced and the parish council with Essex County Council has identified a nursery provider through a rigorous procurement process.

“The nursery will be run on a long-term lease. The aim is to get the project under way very shortly and we will be seeking to work to an ambitious timescale to get the new nursery up and running as quickly as possible, hopefully early next year.”

The nursery lies about 150 metres to the east of the fort dated between AD 43 to 60 built during a time of Roman conquest, military expansion, the Boudiccan revolt and Roman retribution. Despite this, the fort appears to have been rather short-lived.