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Members of the Ditton Parish Council, the East Malling Research Centre, East Malling Trust and Millwood Designer Homes met recently to celebrate the launch of luxury new development Orchard Gate on Kiln Barn Road, near East and West Malling, with the unveiling of the development interpretation board and to view the brand new show home, which has recently opened.

At the entrance to Orchard Gate, the interpretation board is a nod to the site’s past, which from 1929 was the Ditton Laboratories, and had been redundant for over 15 years.

Adrian Padfield, who recently retired as Chief Executive of the East Malling Trust, and Millwood’s Deputy Managing Director Jeff Elliott, unveiled the interpretation board.

Says Jeff:

“I started working on this project in 2008. The site of the old laboratory was certainly an iconic and imposing building, not just architecturally but also because of the part it played in making sure the UK could import fruit from the Commonwealth in the most effective and efficient way.

“Because of the significant role that the old laboratories played in that period of the EMR’s past, we were asked by Tonbridge & Malling and Kent County Council to document its history and we instructed Thames Valley Architectural Services to write a report to accompany our planning application.

“Two of the pioneers running the research here between the Wars were Franklin Kidd and Cyril West. We have tried to recognise and immortalise them by naming the roads in our Orchard Gate development after them, and I sincerely hope that they would be proud of retaining a connection with this area.

“I am also immensely proud of this development. At Millwood, we pride ourselves on building homes that are a cut above the average, not the normal national housebuilders’ stereotype new house but individual homes of good design, using quality materials.

“We have put a lot of effort into the design, not just of the houses but the roads and layout in general with swales, ponds and landscaping, so that from a very early stage the scheme takes on a mature and welcoming look. We have also used clay tiles from the former laboratory building on three plots facing the new pond.

“Apart from the historical record, we have also provided a permanent interpretation board. The board is for future residents of Orchard Gate and any passers-by, to remind them of the important agricultural legacy that the old laboratory buildings have.”

Adrian Padfield adds:

“As the CEO of the East Malling Trust, I was delighted to work with Millwood to bring new life to the land on which the iconic but derelict Ditton laboratory sat. This impressive new development has been the result. The houses already built give a great new character to the area and we are all looking forward to seeing the final result when the development is completed. The proceeds of sale of the land are being reinvested by the Trust in horticultural research at East Malling Research.”

The homes currently available from the first two releases at Orchard Gate range from three-bed mid-terrace and four-bed end-terrace, to four and five-bed detached. Prices from £395,000. The first release is due for completion this summer. For more information, visit or call us on 01732 448270.