Residents in a council housing estate have held a protest against the London Borough of Camden which has allowed noisy out-of-hours work to carry on for months on end.
Members of the Grafton Way Tenants and Residents Association held up road works on the morning of Sunday 29 November, waving placards saying “Peace on Sundays, please” and “Give Us A Break Camden”.
Camden Council is constantly allowing noisy construction and road works out-of-hours outside the housing block where 274 people live.
“We are very fed up here in Grafton Way. We have lost about half our weekends this year because Camden continues to allow works with no care for us,” said Jo Hurford a resident at the housing estate.
“From the first lockdown Camden allowed building works late at night and early mornings and weekends. And now the West End Project is doing it, too,” says Hurford.
The normal hours for noisy work is from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and from 8am to 1pm on Saturdays. No noisy work should take place outside these hours or on a Sunday or public holiday.
But Camden has given approval for out-of-hours noisy construction work by University College London Hospitals (UCLH) to complete its new hospital on its rapidly growing estate around Huntley Street.
To add further insult to the residents Camden then gave the go ahead to allow road works on its own West End Project to take place on three Sundays in a row.
When the Grafton Way TRA complained, the West End Project team fobbed off the residents with spurious reasons for weekend working. One excuse that the WEP Team PR spokesperson came up with is that emergency ambulances need access during the week and so work has to take place on the weekend.
Residents were quick to point out that people still need emergency treatment at weekends — accidents and emergencies do not respect Monday to Friday working.
They say Camden appears to be completely ignoring the fact that its own tenants and leaseholders live here.
Sharine John, chair of the TRA for the last 15 years told Fitzrovia News:
“The West End project purports to be working in consultation with the residents but we feel ignored,” she said.
The peaceful protest which involved around a dozen people stopped all work until police officers arrived and asked the demonstrators to leave the road.
Out-of-hours working is a major bugbear for people living in Fitzrovia. With so many construction sites it is very noisy during the week. Fitzrovia News frequently hears that residents complain not only about authorised noisy work out-of-hours but also about a number of illegal works that start before 8am, continue after 6pm, and goes on at weekends and public holidays with impunity.
A Camden council spokesperson apologised to residents and said that would be the final weekend of noisy works.
“Last weekend was the final weekend of resurfacing work taking place on Grafton Way. We are sorry for the disturbance this has caused to residents,” said the spokesperson.
However, the the reference to ambulances was repeated despite Fitzrovia News pointing out that residents were not taken in.
“Unfortunately the work has to take place over the weekend to limit the impact on the vital access of the London Ambulance Service to UCLH,” said the statement.
“These works will help enable our transformation of Camden’s West End and Bloomsbury – making Gower Street and Bloomsbury Street two way to traffic, reducing congestion and air pollution and speeding up bus routes.
“Our West End Project will provide safer, greener and more attractive streets for residents and visitors, helping to attract, sustain and boost local businesses,” said the spokesperson.
However, people living on Grafton Way will actually have to endure increased motor traffic, congestion and the inevitable pollution it causes as the new road system will mean that traffic taken off Tottenham Court Road will be diverted along the road which also acts as a gyratory around Euston Circus and is outside the Congestion Charge and ULEZ zones, as we reported in 2019.