Neighbors complain of dust and noise due to construction work on the 300-home Orchard Mill development of St Modwen in Ditton

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Families say they can’t use their gardens or let their children play outside because of dust blown in from a nearby building site.

St Modwen Homes has started work on its 300-unit Orchard Mill development in Ditton.

But amid one of the driest summers on record, construction is causing significant amounts of dirt on neighbors’ cars, windows and outdoor spaces.

Kay Risby, who lives in Cherry Orchard, said: “On the very first day they started working, two weeks ago, our garden and patio furniture was covered in dust, and because we had the windows open , this also entered the house.”

She and her neighbors complained to the site manager and for a few days there was no problem.

But she said: “We came back last Monday from a weekend to find everything covered in dust worse than ever.

“It took us two and a half hours to water everything.”

Dust kicked up at the St Modwen site

Ms. Risby’s property adjoins the new construction site.

She said: “It’s ironic. We’re having one of the best summers ever, but we can’t sit in our back gardens and enjoy it because of the dust and noise from the site. .

“It’s especially hard on my neighbor who has young children but can’t let them play in the garden.”

She said: “When applying for planning permission, St Modwen assured us that noise and disturbance would be kept to a minimum, but unfortunately that is not the case.

“Since the start of the works, our road has been covered with significant amounts of dust. Our windows are dirty, our cars are dirty and all our garden furniture is dirty.

Kay Risby of Cherry Orchard, Ditton
Kay Risby of Cherry Orchard, Ditton

“You can’t open the windows, which is difficult in these temperatures.

“I have written to St Modwen Homes head office to complain but have had no response.”

She said: “Of course now that there’s a garden hose ban, we won’t even be able to clean up the dust.”

St Modwen Homes had described its Orchard Mill project as “an exciting opportunity to build a haven in the Ditton area, filled with green space and parkland for the enjoyment of residents”.

The land, formerly known as Ditton Edge, was granted planning permission in November 2020, despite a petition signed by 1,600 people against the plans.

Dust on Mrs. Risby's garden furniture
Dust on Mrs. Risby’s garden furniture

The site was previously owned by the East Malling Trust.

Ahead of construction, the company’s regional manager, Jeremy Attwater, said: “We can’t wait to start construction.

“For us, it’s not just about building new homes, because we care about the surrounding areas and the communities we create.”

A spokesperson for St Modwen Homes said: “We regret the current dust levels at Orchard Mill, Ditton, development caused by the exceptionally dry conditions.

“To address the issue, we have increased dust suppression measures at the site, including water tankers to cushion the site.

A computer generated image of what the new Modwen homes in Ditton might look like
A computer generated image of what the new Modwen homes in Ditton might look like

“We have also installed dust monitoring stations at the perimeter of the site, which will be regularly inspected.”

The company further stated that with respect to the impending garden hose ban, the water it uses will not be wasted and will be used responsibly.

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