Winstanley Road, Working Hours, Noise levels

We have already published several articles on the Winstanley development (student flats). In one of them we noticed that residents have expressed concerns on the disruption caused by vehicles using the public pavements for parking and accessing the construction site.

It seems that all issues have not been cleared as shown in the email exchange that we publish below (in reverse date order).

From: John Marshall

Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2011 16:34:06 +0000

Dear Mr.Biddle,

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my email to you of 13 January 2011. I fully understand that you would prefer to be doing other things. I would like to ask for clarification on some of your responses.

Correct me if I am wrong, you were granted planning permission for the site in September 2009, seventeen months ago. You say you are still waiting for the utility company to connect the site with an electricity supply. Surely one of the first things that Berkeley First did on receipt of the planning permission was to contract with the utility company so that the supply could be up and running at the earliest opportunity, so as to minimise the disruption from fuel powered generators, of which there are three on the site.

When was the contract drawn up and what timescales were agreed? It cannot be considered reasonable that seventeen months later the utility companies have not supplied electricity to the site. This should have been secured a long time ago, and it would seem reasonable to have expected this to be in place a year or so ago. And if the utility company is not delivering on its side then legal action should be taken against it out of respect for the large number of local residents how are so adversely affected and have been so for many months.

You said in previous correspondence that the supply was being accelerated and would be in place by November 2010. Then this deadline became January 2011. We are now into February 2011 and we still have the generators resonating around the building for fifty four and a half hours per week. I am fortunate in that I leave the building between Monday and Friday but I do feel a lot of sympathy for the residents of neighbouring buildings which are at home all day, the elderly etc. It is especially irritating for the working residents to be woken every Saturday morning at 8.30am rendering impossible any kind of lay-in, and I doubt whether a single one of the (several hundred) affected local residents would agree with your assertion that it is reasonably considerate to be operating with such noise and disruption so early on Saturday mornings, on top of the fifty hours Monday to Friday activity. By way or reminder, the standard working week is 35 to 40 hours.

The noise mitigation attempts you refer to have had little impact as the problem is more from the vibrations from the generators. They also emit polluting gases.

I would like to correct the factual error in your last paragraph, as you were told by Councillor Hogg in the meeting we attended, it is not only myself who has complained about the conduct of Berkeley First. Actions like arrogantly removing a tree in front of our building without permission and leaving us with a muddy square patch for several months should give you a clue as to why the feeling in the building where I live amongst the residents varies from resigned, apathetic “what can I do about it?” to disgust and outrage. Routinely using the pavement outside of our building for manourering the construction vehicles should give you another clue.

You are most mistaken if you believe there is any praise from any of the hundred or so residents of Sendall Court. We are not unreasonable people and can accept a certain amount of disruption, as was the case when the Medical Centre was being constructed, or the essential gas maintenance work, but you should be reminded that this is a massive project to provide student accommodation for students studying at an college outside of the borough. Accordingly you should work to foster goodwill amongst the local residents by striving to respect the local residents who are having to endure all the downside of this high impact project for two to three years. You have failed to do that in continuing to use three site generators seventeen months after gaining planning permission instead of ensuring an electricity supply to the site in reasonable time.

You should also be reminded that you have been invited to make a proportionate gesture of compensation/goodwill to the local residents but refused, citing a mysterious and invisible section 106 agreement which most local residents know nothing about. The continual reference to the charity bike ride and irrelevantly small gestures that have been made serve mainly to emphasise how little Berkeley First are doing for the local community who are enduring so much.

Yours sincerely,

John Marshall

From: Matthew Biddle

Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2011 19:24:07 +0000

Dear Mr Marshall,

Winstanley Road, Clapham, SW11

Thank you for your email of earlier today.

The majority of the points have previously been raised in earlier correspondence, and we believe that we have already responded to them in detail. Nevertheless, I set out below our response to each of the issues raised:

Saturday Working Hours

You are correct that we gave the concession to limit noisy work between 8am to 8.30am (despite having full planning permission to do so). On the morning of Saturday the 9th of January the piling rig was started up prematurely at 8.22am in error, but was only ticking over rather than drilling (which generates more noise). Our Senior Site Manager went out to investigate, but because turning the rig off and powering it back up again at 8.30am would have created more noise, he decided to let it idle until 8.30am. The generator was not switched on until 8.30am.

I apologise for contravening our concession by 8 minutes. Our site management team have again been reminded that they should prevent plant from commencing prior to 8.30am on Saturdays.

In your email you refer to there being heavy duty construction vehicles and earth movers on site. Please note that we are not carrying out any earthmoving activities on the site. Currently on phase 2 (Children’s Home) we are carrying out Piling operations. This involves the use of a Piling rig, a concrete batching unit, and a ‘JCB’ to move arisings away from pile positions.

Generator adjacent to Winstanley Road

We programmed, and had hoped to be in a position to energise the new electric supply well before Christmas, however we have been severely delayed by the statutory utility undertaker, EDF Energy (now UK PN). Unfortunately we have no control over utility companies and have to ‘wait our turn’. We have been constantly urging them to progress the works, and have had several meetings with them in an effort to do so. We have been advised that the various legal agreements have been progressed, and expect the new service to be installed within the next couple of months.

As previously discussed, whilst we do not wish to have generators on site, we have installed mitigation measures in order to reduce the noise impact as much as is practicable. You mention that you doubt whether the use of such generators is considered acceptable and considerate. As previously reiterated, Inspectors from the Considerate Constructors Scheme regularly inspect the site. You may wish to know that following the recent inspection the site has been awarded an extremely high score.

Once we have additional information with regards to installation dates, we shall advise you accordingly.

Communication with Residents

This issue has been the subject of previous correspondence and emails. You state that you gave our site manager a list of items to be included in any communication with local residents, and you further state that this was not actioned. As previously communicated to you by our Project Manager, we feel that it isn’t fair for one resident to dictate the contents of any news letter.

As you know, we have extended several invitations for residents’ meetings, so that such issues could be discussed, however interest was virtually no existent.

We consider that our communication with local residents is very good, and shall continue to issue our newsletters in the same format.

Pavement in front of Sendall Court

As previously advised, the pavement is to be repaired by the Local Authority, and this has been agreed with them (Berkeley are responsible for the costs). We note that its condition has not deteriorated. Once we are advised by the Local Authority of their proposed date for the work to be carried out, we shall inform you accordingly.

Sapling in front of Sendall Court

We had previously given our commitment to replace the removed sapling, and we still intend to do so. We have programmed for this to be carried out during the time when our Landscaping Contractor is working on site, and this should be during April/may.

It must be said that we are surprised at the continued criticisms that we receive from you, especially as we do not seem to receive any complaints from any other local residents. In fact, quite to the contrary, the site is regularly praised by the various regulatory bodies, and we also receive thanks from various local organisations.

We trust the above clarifies the issues raised, however should you wish to discuss further, please feel free to contact either contact the project team or myself.

Yours Sincerely,

Matthew Biddle
Managing Director

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