A group of Bermondsey residents are in “uproar” after a developer asked Southwark Council to extend working hours on a local building to 9pm through the summer.
Tide Construction is building a nine-storey block that will house 250 students on the corner of St James’ Road and Catlin Street, on the site of an old petrol station. The developer was originally given planning permission despite objections by local residents and councillors about the potential loss of sunlight from the block, which is considerably higher than its neighbouring buildings, as well as the lack of affordable housing included in the plans.
Now Tide is asking to keep builders onsite from 8am-9pm, Monday-Friday, and from 8am-6pm on Saturdays, for a period of about three months until the end of August, when building work is due to end. Builders would work seven staggered shifts under this plan, with the earliest running from 8am-4.30pm and the latest from 11am-9pm.
The developer said in a letter sent to council planners in May that this change would help its builders stick to social distancing rules amid the Covid-19 pandemic, while keeping the construction programme “largely unchanged”. Eighty builders are allowed onsite now because of social distancing at any one time, down from the 140 the developer had planned for.
Tide added that building work had slowed because of this, and this change would help it stick to its building schedule.
The first batch of students are due to move into the block in August for the start of the new academic year.
People already living nearby are unhappy about the possible change. “It’s completely unacceptable,” said Robert, who grew up in a house across the road and whose mother still lives there. “There’s a total uproar here. There are young children in the area, people with medical conditions – people who need to be able to rest and relax. Work going on that late is just not okay.”
He added that his mother had not been consulted about the possible extension of working hours.
The three councillors for the Old Kent Road ward all said they oppose the extended hours. “We continue to be frustrated by this developer’s attitude towards the local community,” Cllrs Evelyn Akoto, Richard Livingstone and Michael Situ told the News. “They seem determined to be bad neighbours!
“First, they ignored the usual social housing requirements of the Old Kent Road area action plan and dismissed local residents’ concerns about the impact of the development on their homes. Now, they are seeking to significantly change the hours agreed for construction. This will cause noise for many more hours – up until 9pm! That will make it hard for families trying to get their kids to sleep and mean that people will find it harder to enjoy their gardens at the weekend.
“We hear from residents that the developer already ignores the current hours, so we are also concerned that they will abuse any extended hours too when it suits them.”
Tide said in its letter to the council that the noisiest part of the building work is over: demolition, piling, excavation and installing basement and ground floor slabs. The developer said that the next phases, including welding and internal work on building modules, adding brickwork cladding and landscaping, are not “noise generating”.
Tide added that “where noise levels from particular construction activities may cause some disruption” it “will write to neighbouring properties to let them know and set out what measures will be put in place to minimise disruption”.
The company has been contacted for further comment on the consultation.