PEOPLE living on a housing estate have been advised not to dig their gardens for fear of turning up asbestos.

Residents living on the Wallhouse Road estate in Slade Green have been sent warning letters by Bexley Council after someone living in Jenningtree Road dug up what proved to be pieces of the potentially dangerous material.

The former council estate was built in the 1950s and is now owned by Orbit Bexley Housing Association, which commissioned a soil investigation now being carried out by a specialist company.

Bexley's own environmental health service will also be hiring a specialist consultant to carry out a more detailed assessment and recommend what further investigation is needed.

This is not the first time residents in Jenningtree Road have suffered asbestos fears.

Ten years ago, a whole series of discoveries of buried asbestos were made close to the street.

All the sites were near the former TAC asbestos factory which used to be located in Manor Road, Erith.

In 1997, a former TAC worker claimed to News Shopper the company had dumped waste asbestos all over the Slade Green area and beyond.

The Construction Industry Training Board, the national training organisation for building in the UK, was forced to do a soil survey on its Manor Road centre after asbestos waste was turned up in 1996.

Developer Bellway Homes had to do a similar investigation in 1994 when asbestos was found during construction work on a new estate on former green belt land in Slade Green Road.

By 1997, residents claimed they were digging up pieces of asbestos waste in their gardens.

And the same year, more asbestos waste was found on a next-door site being developed by Barratt Homes.

At the time, residents in Jenningtree Road told News Shopper they were alarmed to see men in white protective suits and wearing breathing apparatus on the site.

Asbestos has also been found on the playing fields of the former Howbury Grange School site in Slade Green Road.

New tests are currently being carried out on this site - now the Howbury Centre, which houses facilities such as a nursery and Slade Green Library - to find out the extent of any contamination, before the site is sold.

The council has been seeking to reassure residents, saying if buried asbestos is left undisturbed, it is "unlikely to cause problems".

Councillor for the Slade Green area John Eastaugh said: "I am not surprised this problem has surfaced again.

"My concern is for the residents who must be thinking What are we living on?'."

He added: "Some will be living in clean spots, and some in dirty ones, and no one will know until they dig up their garden.

"I am getting worried about just what is under Slade Green."

Residents who find any unusual material in their gardens should call the council's environmental health service on 020 8303 7777 and choose option two.