OCCUPIERS of 28 houses at Warrington, previously believed to have been built on contaminated land, have been told there is now no need for their gardens to be "cleaned up."
The properties are in Old Liverpool Road and Evelyn Street, Sankey Bridges - and all have smaller than average gardens, generally covered with hardstanding such as flags, concrete or gravel.
Town Hall chiefs have concluded that although there are risks associated with the contamination identified within the garden areas of the properties, the likelihood of residents consuming a relatively large amount of contaminated soil, or coming tinto contact with it over a long period of time, is minimal.
The gardens have been ruled "safe" as a result in changes in statutory guidance.
Other properties in other parts of the borough are also likely to be found not to requiring cleaning up.
More than 1,650 sites across Warrington were originally identified  as being possibly contaminated as a result of previously industrial activity - including 222 in the Sankey Bridges area.
Of these, 34 were cleaned-up and 160 found to not require treatment.
Evelyn Street School was also sampled, following concerns raised by parents, but no issues were identified.
But 28 properties were left within the study area.
Now, however, the Government has issued new guidance which allows councils greater flexibility in reaching balanced decisions. As a result, the 28 properties have been ruled to be of low risk, not requiring cleaning-up.
The Health Protection Agency, the Primary Care Trust, the Environment Agency, local councillors, residents and landlords have already been involved in the assessment.
In a report to the borough council's executive board, Cllr David Keane (pictured), executive member for environment and public protection, said 28 residential properties at Sankey Bridges were awaiting a decision on their legal status. Some were awaiting decisions so that property transactions could go ahead.
He said: "The adoption of the new policy and procedure will allow the local authority to discharge its duties in accordance with the revised guidance, thus ensuring that future decisions are fair, consistent and proportionate to the risk and appropriately recorded."