Building work on new homes in Hanging Heaton is making residents’ lives 'hell'

People living just yards from the site of a new housing estate say they have become “prisoners in their own homes” due to “appalling” noise and dust levels created by machinery on the land.

By Tony Earnshaw, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 28th June 2022, 6:00 am

Four acres of fields off High Street and Challenge Way in Hanging Heaton, which is partly in both Batley and Dewsbury, have been torn up since April 4 as workmen use bulldozers and road rollers to prepare the area for 55 new homes.

The contentious scheme by Castleford-based Vistry Partnerships was approved by councillors on Kirklees Council last November.

But locals whose homes overlook the site say loud noise from morning until evening, plus dust given off by the work, means windows must be kept closed even on the hottest days of the year.

Neighbours Steve Crossley and Laura Shaw look out on the building site where fields have been torn up to create a contentious new housing estate in Hanging Heaton

Andrew Poyner, managing director (Yorkshire) for Vistry Partnerships, accepted there was “a level of inconvenience” around the works but said the company was “working within all the parameters” set down as a result of the scheme being approved by Kirklees Council.

Mother-of-two Laura Shaw, who has lived in her house for nine years and campaigned against the scheme, said: “I accept the decision and that the building is going to go ahead.

“What is not acceptable are the conditions that we are expected to live in.

"No one is listening to us when we ask if the noise levels and dust can be reduced.

Neighbours Steve Crossley and Laura Shaw look out on the building site where fields have been torn up to create a contentious new housing estate in Hanging Heaton

"If they have the road roller out all our homes vibrate. The houses literally shake. It’s really quite terrifying.

"I dread to think what that might be doing to the foundations. Yet we’ve got to put up and shut up – and be prisoners in our homes.”

Her comments were echoed by neighbour Steve Crossley, who has lived at his address for more than 20 years.

He said: “It’s hell. My wife has got health issues so we have to have the windows open for fresh air. But it’s so bad that we can’t. I’ve reported it to Environmental Health.

“One of the machines screeches when it’s being used. Can’t someone oil it?

"And they’re not damping down the land – not policing it – so the dust gets everywhere. It’s terrible. I’m so angry.”

Mr Poyner said the early stages of building the estate involved using heavy plant and other machinery that was working to the correct decibel parameters.

Two water bowsers are on site and are used to suppress the effects of dust where it is created. Vehicles are also limited to reduced speed limits on site.

He said: “All these things we do to minimise the inconvenience.”

Laura wrote to Kirklees Council to raise concerns about the partial demolition of a boundary wall that was meant to be protected.

A planning officer said the matter would be investigated and that the developer “is in breach of several pre-commencement conditions”.

However despite Laura calling for a halt to work while the investigation was carried out, the council refused.

The authority said it was “satisfied that all pre-commencement conditions will be discharged in due course. Therefore, the council do not have any concerns at this moment in time regarding the development taking place at the site, and therefore we will not be serving a Temporary Stop Notice to halt all development.”

Laura and her husband are now considering selling their family home and moving away.

She said: “When the new houses are built they’ll be 10.5m from my fence. I’m going to be looking directly into somebody’s bedroom.

"It just makes me feel uncomfortable when all I want to do is sit on my balcony with a cup of tea.

“I think I’m being very slowly driven mad by the intolerable heat combined with not being able to open any windows because the noise is appalling, just non-stop.

"And this is going to go on for two years.”

Mr Poyner said preparatory works would continue “for a finite period” up to the end of August or into early September, after which building will begin.

He anticipates the first homes being occupied by the end of 2022 or early in 2023 and said: “We want this development to be part of the local community.”