Monday, 12 July 2010

A Petition from Coniston House residents

Members of Mile End Residents Association who live in Coniston House - on Eastendhomes' Eric and Treby Street Estate - are today sending a petition to:
  • Owen Whalley, Head of Planning and Development Control at Tower Hamlets Council and 
  • Ted Wojewodka, Manager - Complaints Team (London) Health and Safety Executive.
[Update 12th July 2010: We've received a very prompt written response from Owen Whalley, promising to look into this matter]
     The petition results from:
    • the recent excavation of the grass and soil and tarmaccing of "Open Space 2" (the space in the middle of the Coniston House blocks), part of the Eric & Treby Street development - with no prior notice and no notified indication of why it is there
    • the lack of any indication in the draft Construction Management Plan of any works in this area other than those relating to the redevelopment of the Open Space for recreational purposes.
    • the general lack of any attention to health and safety issues on this site by the contractor Telford Homes plc
    • the breach of planning permission and planning conditions
    • the generally very poor level of communication with residents
    • the total lack of notification to residents of Coniston House of any works in their area and the timing of works (eg the development of the undercroft; the development of the open space). 

    The petition states the following:
    The car park at Coniston House has been extended during the first week of July.  This was not part of the building plans that were approved by the Council, which showed the area as part car park and part play ground.  The car park now encroaches on the space that was planned to be used as a playground.  Residents were not informed or consulted about the change.

    Residents are also concerned that site traffic is going the wrong way around the site and construction trucks are manoeuvering without banksmen to ensure the safety of pedestrians and other road users

    We demand that the works are changed back to the original plans and that residents are consulted about any future work in this area.
    83% of the properties signed and 100% of those who were asked.  There are 66 properties in the block.  The petition includes 56 signatures from 55 properties .  Those who have not signed were out when the local block representative visited their home.  Nobody refused to sign.
    What do local residents think?  

    Residents made the following points when signing the petition

    • Residents generally commented about the total lack of any notification about what was happening and the overall level of noise
    • Nobody notified a lady who is asthmatic.  She was very upset by the development as the dust really affected her asthma and she wasn't given any warning.
    • Many residents do not know about the new 1 bed flats to go in the undercroft area of Coniston House
    • Many families had been looking forward to having a Play Area next to Coniston House as Mile End Park is too far away across a busy road.  They are upset that the grass has been taken.  The grass is used including for dog walking.
    • The railings block access from the car park to the main block doors. One one you have to fight through a tree in order to get through
    • In the absence of any communication from EastendHomes or Telford Homes, people think the tarmac will be used for car parking spaces.  They commented that there are plenty of empty car parking spaces.  Residents do not feel that there is any need for any more.

    Contaminated soil extracted: Residents were also not aware that the site which was excavated was contaminated ground and that the soil excavated required controls attached to its excavation which were not evident to any of those who watched the excavation.

    Site traffic breaching planning conditions:  We have already commented to both the Council and the Health and Safety Executive (responsible for construction sites) about the complete disregard for local residents demonstrated by drivers of the HGV vehicles taking away the soil (see MERA Blog Eric & Treby Site Traffic "out of control").  We also saw no evidence of any the health and safety measures identified in the plans submitted to date - even though these are not, as yet, approved.


    It is INTOLERABLE (and maybe illegal?) for buildings works to be taking place:
    • in the absence of a construction management plan approved by Tower Hamlets Council - See MERA blog posts Construction Management Plan - REFUSED and WHY the Eric & Treby Construction Management Plan was refused
    • in the absence of an approved site contamination/remediation plan - for a Development Site which has been identified by experts as being contaminated with Arsenic, Nickel, Lead and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons - see MERA Blog Post Eric & Treby Estate: Site Contamination
    • in the absence of any measures to reduce dust and its impact on people living nearby with respiratory problems such as asthma
    • in the absence of satisfactory measures to comply with the details of all other pre-commencement planning conditions
    So far as we are aware Tower Hamlets Council has a statutory duty of care towards the residents of this borough which involves exercising such powers as it has under planning and health and safety legislation to ensure that residents are NOT exposed to undue and avoidable risks.  That, as we understand, forms the basis for many of the terms of the planning permission and planning conditions which are currently being ignored.


    We want the statutory agencies to make sure that:
    • all work on this site is STOPPED until such time as ALL appropriate pre-commencement planning conditions have been satisfied. 
    • the construction management plan (when finally approved) includes detailed/stipulated arrangements for communicating explicitly and promptly with ALL tenants - at all stages of this development - as and when required (ie BEFORE works start)
    • all health and safety aspects of this development are comprehensively addressed - by Telford Homes plc and Eastend Homes in liason with Tower Hamlets Council and the HSE London Team responsible for construction sites
    • the construction management plan and all other plans which relate to the creation of dust MUST create an environment which does not jeopardise the health of people living nearby who have serious respiratory problems.  This is particularly important given the fact the site is contaminated and includes carcinogenic material. It is not acceptable to excavate soil without precautions and/or create a development which could lead to people having their health put at risk, leading them to being admitted to hospital or worse.  The site must be SAFE for those with respiratory/disability problems.
    • Everybody responsible for the development of this site MUST have a complete and accurate appreciation of the dangers of dust for those with respiratory problems and act accordingly.  Otherwise they render themselves liable to prosecution.  Ignorance is not a defence in law for developments such as this.
    Note: The covering letter with the petition is being copied to:

    • Councillor Rachael Saunders, Cabinet Lead for Health and Wellbeing (and Councillor for Mile End East)
    • Councillor Tim Archer, Scrutiny Lead for Healthy Communities and Chair of the Health Scrutiny Panel
    • Martin Young  Chair EastendHomes
    • Paul Bloss CEO EastendHomes
    • Andy Osborne, Project Manager, EastendHomes
    • Stephen Irvine, Development Control Manager
    • Richard Murrell, Planning Officer - The Eric & Treby Estate
    • Cain Duncan, Planning Investigation & Enforcement

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