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Residents of former Swanley convent kick up stink with unholy behaviour
The residents of a former convent in Swanley have been causing a stink with their distinctly unholy behaviour.
The Convent of Mercy in Sycamore Drive used to be home to a group of nuns but has since been taken over by housing association tenants.
Foul-smelling bonfires, loud music and reported bad language have not gone down well in a road which has a primary school and a nursery just a stone's throw from the redbrick former convent.
Outgoing Mayor of Swanley and Christchurch ward Councillor Lawrence Ball told News Shopper: "It's a dump, it really is.
"They have been playing music really loudly and it looks horrendous.
"Residents have been seriously complaining about the noise.
Disused fridges and ovens at the site.
"There is a whole heap of used fridges and ovens there."
The reported late-night parties and noxious fumes got so bad Sevenoaks District Council had to step in.
The planning authority was forced to issue two separate abatement notices against residents on April 2, calling on them to cut out the bonfires and amplified music.
It is thought old appliances like fridges and ovens were being burned in the grounds of the convent so the copper could be extracted for sale.
Though the bonfires have stopped and behaviour has improved, the site is still an eyesore, according to Coun Victor Southern.
Coun Lawrence Ball says the convent looks "horrendous".
The former Mayor of Swanley said: "It doesn't look any better than it ever was.
"It's a tremendous nuisance. "You would go up there and there would be this constant reek of burning plastic."
The convent is in the same road as the Bright Sparks Pre School and St Bartholomew's Roman Catholic Primary School.
St Bartholomew's headteacher Kevin McPartland confirmed he had concerns about the issue and had been in touch with Sevenoaks District Council to complain.
Housing association response
A spokesman for Housing Care Association, which owns and runs the former convent, defended its tenants.
Mustafa Mustafa said: "Contrary to belief, Housing Care Association is making every effort to ensure that all its properties comply with environmental health policy and that the needs and concerns of our neighbours are both acknowledged and respected.
"We accept that at times there is a breakdown in communication and our tenants sometimes failed to realise the importance of adhering to certain rules and the resulting impact.
"Housing Care Association has a management team in place that will ensure that all areas of concern are immediately addressed.
"We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to anti-social behaviour and where there is non-compliance around other areas we expect that if need be the local authority and neighbouring businesses will approach us and raise any matter of concern.
"However, it is essential that the public are aware that the convent is no different to any other isolated dwelling housing a mixed bag of nationalities and personalities - sometimes there is lack of understanding, appreciation and even care and by working together problems are easily addressed."
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