Residents fear second summer of dust storms from building site
Residents living opposite a building site in Penwortham say they fear their homes will be blighted by dust for the second summer running.
Locals claim that developer Morris Homes is not doing enough to protect their properties while it builds around 300 new houses on the site of a former gas works off the The Cawsey.
Sam Mason says he is able to draw in the dirt in his three-year-old daughter’s bedroom within days of cleaning it. Meanwhile, his wife has been prescribed inhalers – even though she has never previously suffered from breathing problems.
“It’s bad enough during the winter, but over the hot, dry months last year, it was unbearable,” the Pinewood Road resident said.
“They are required to have a wheel wash for the vehicles coming off the site, but they hardly ever do. They are doing nothing to suppress dust and dirt and the wagons are often left uncovered – the road is absolutely filthy.
“I’ve never tried to lead a crusade against the developers – I accept that the new estate will improve the area when it’s built. But this is about protecting my family and being able to enjoy my property,” Sam says.
Morris Homes’ environmental plan for the St. Mary’s Park development commits the housebuilder to damping down the area during long periods of dry weather and wet-sweeping of road surfaces.
But Tom Anderson, who also lives just yards from the site, says he has lost all confidence in South Ribble Borough Council to enforce any of the conditions which should govern work on the development – including a start time of no earlier than 8am.
“They have let them get away with all sorts on here,” Tom claims.
“The other morning, I was walking the dog at 6.20 and the wagons had already arrived. They might not be able to get on site, but they’re unloading their payloads – and the minute that happens, that’s work.
“We’re not a load of whinging locals – the builder and the council have treated us appallingly and people are so disillusioned they don’t even complain any more,” he adds.
Following a public meeting in December, South Ribble’s chief executive, Heather McManus, wrote to Morris Homes ordering the firm to wash the wheels of all vehicles before leaving the site and to respond immediately to any complaints of mud on the road. The authority also demanded to see the results of dust monitoring.
But Sam says the action has not been swift enough – nor stringently enforced. He has now lodged a complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman.
While he waits to see what this summer sends his way in terms of dust, Sam at least hopes he will be spared the noise which accompanied it last year.
“They were digging out concrete for eight hours every day – and the house was vibrating. I had a new fireplace installed and it had worked loose after a week,” he recalls.
“There is no respect for any of the people living here. I think a lot of these companies work on the basis that this is how they can operate – and they’re just not held to account for it.”
A spokesperson for Morris Homes said that it takes the environmental impact of its developments “seriously”.
“Some disruption is unfortunately unavoidable, especially in the early stages of construction.
“A road sweeper is in full-time attendance, with every effort being made to keep roads clear. When there is significant vehicle movement we further support by jet washing wheels.
“We have made clear the permitted operational hours for deliveries to all suppliers and continue to monitor this.
“We employ an independent company to monitor dust and noise and they continue to provide their results to South Ribble Borough Council and their environmental officer,” the company added.
Jennifer Mullin, director of neighbourhoods and development at South Ribble Borough Council, said the authority had been working extensively with residents “to understand, investigate and, where possible, mitigate” their concerns.
“The development is an active building site and as such general day-to-day construction activities are undertaken with some noise and disruption expected,” Ms. Mullin said.
“The council has worked closely with Morris Homes to ensure they adhere to their environmental mitigation measures and ensure minimal impact on the neighbouring residents.
“This development is regularly monitored for noise and dust. Across the site, the council have conducted extensive noise monitoring with use of specialist equipment and sampling and to date have found no evidence of noise exceeding that which is categorised as excessive in the area.
“Morris Homes have also deployed a sweeper which is used daily to clear the area of dust and debris and council officers regularly visit the site to inspect this work and have been satisfied with the result.
“The council take the views of their residents seriously and in relation to this site have prioritised consultation with residents and have set up regular residents’ meetings to address any concerns they may have.
“All complaints and concerns received from residents across any of our developments are listened to and investigated and we will continue to work closely with our partner developers to ensure minimal impact.
“We also work in close partnership with our colleagues at Lancashire County Council to ensure that the nearby road network is minimally affected by the ongoing development,” Ms. Mullin added.