The cost of development

Email from a resident adversely affected by the cumulative impact of several construction projects over a long period 
“Windows at the front of our properties closed for 2.5 years.
Dust: Paintwork, front doors and windows covered in either dust from, demolition, earth removal by grab lorries, concrete dust from pumping hours at a time, whole property brick sanding without any covering, roof removal, skip filling,  All of the above has occurred during one week of March and much of it is on a daily basis.
Air pollution from all of the above stopping us from opening windows for 2.5 years.  The inevitable stationary HGV’s with motors running to facilitate any of the above,  pumping noxious fumes into the air and through into our houses which are inevitably not double glazed. The pavements are broken from vehicles turning, Road surface is jet washed rough.  Cars are anonymously repeatedly scraped & bumped, wing mirrors broken all from vehicles servicing these faceless building sites where owners bear no responsibility or duty of care to their neighbours. Occasionally, project managers (where available), feel sorry for the residents, try to help sometimes with good humour where thy can.   But the reality is that with two massive and 2.5yr and still going (who knows why?) developments side by side with owners who have no intention of ever living there, Its the people next door / opposite and in close proximity who bear the brunt of the daily grime.
 
Lack of privacy is another invasion into every day life particularly in a small cul de sac, 10’s of builders streetside, watching, smoking, eating lunch, rubbish on the ground, sat in vehicles with engines running for hours at a time, staring into neighbours windows – kitchens,  lounge room into every day life. We didn’t buy flat in a block surrounded by others. We bought in a quiet cul de sac in a pretty cherry tree lined street in west London. 
 
Of course there have been the usual renovations in this street during a 10 year period but none this enormous both in scale or length of time. 
What happens to neighbours trying to get some sleep when they have come off a long haul work flight? What about those working from home? Writers? Business owners?  Trying to write up medical reports or studying legal documents? Or those who have to work on a shift basis?
 
What about neighbours who are ill? Is that only after 4pm? Having chemo and feel so sick that sleep is the only respite? 
 
What about those who have a new baby, try and get a newborn to sleep with the vibrations and drilling and sanding and also the constant shouting between builders during the day? 2.5 years of disturbance is a long time in your average persons life on a quiet street in Kensington. It’s too long.
 
Many stories of neighbours in their 70’s setting to enjoy retirement in the royal borough. Over their 15-20 years they have seen a few developments,but now they are monster scale, even with a single basement restriction (they just make the ceilings higher) and a 50% foot print limit, the elaborate insides take years. Pools especially. So they live through a 4 year development one side following by a 2.5 year the other side?   Not a nice way to enjoy retirement. Diggers, grabbers, builders shouting all day, concrete pumps and daily skips delivering/ filling /emptying. 
What has happened here, that no one cares, because there is no ownership of the developments and more importantly the effect of the development by the actual owners.
 
The councils need to infer a strict time limit and at the very least make home owners inflicting this on their neighbours pay. There needs to be an up front compensation scheme. It’s possible and totally affordable by either the owner and developer combination. Think of it as an environment / community tax. 
Pay for what? Alternative accommodation for 3 years? A holiday or two to get away from it all?
Just regular communication on what is going on would be good, windows cleaned, paintwork cleaned, cars washed on a regular basis (once the liquid concrete has been scraped off)? In fact anything that shows a consideration for others.
What about our internal furnishings that are spoiled? Filthy curtains and carpets. Wooden floors scratched from brick dust? Paint finishes that have deteriorated over too long a period of being exposed.
The council needs to make homeowners take responsibility towards their neighbours. Treat others how you would like to be treated. At least reasonably. Reason is the key issue here.
 
No one minds a refurbishment over a few months but this is ultimately an extremely selfish and uncaring attitude towards others. There are a few. Some project managers write letters. It helps. Owners sending neighbours gifts, to say sorry about the impending work.  Ultimately there has to be a time limit for residential projects in London. Legislation or penalties over 18 months work. Councils need to have the power to scrutinise the plans and schedules and have the skills to evaluate where the impacts are.”

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