Construction giant Multiplex are pressing Camden Council to allow them to work through the night on Derwent London’s largest office and residential development, to play catch-up on a site which has been dogged by delays.
Mutiplex wants to pour concrete onto steelwork at the 80 Charlotte Street site overnight between Friday 26 and Saturday 27 January, despite noisy construction work being banned between 6pm and 8am by planning conditions and environmental health laws.
The project was delayed in 2013 after advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi, which occupied the building since 1975, delayed its move away from the property to two other sites also built by Derwent London at Farringdon and Chancery Lane.
Originally the project was to retain a substantial proportion of the existing structures thereby cutting waste and carbon emissions whilst reducing the construction period.
But shortly after work started on the job the less environmentally-destructive approach was ditched after Multiplex and Derwent decided that the existing structure was not worth keeping and a complete demolition of the floorplates was necessary. As a consequence the landmark scheme designed by architects Make was again delayed.
The site has been mostly pre-let to The Boston Consulting Group and global engineering firm Arup. Derwent are now keen to meet a completion target of early 2020.
Information obtained by Fitzrovia News reveals that 33-tonne concrete truckmixers will arrive every 15 minutes to feed noisy pumps at the site which will operate non-stop through Friday night and the early hours of Saturday morning, creating air pollution in and around the site.
Local community group the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association (which publishes Fitzrovia News) has written to Camden Council urging them to refuse permission for the overnight work.
The FNA says it is “completely unacceptable to ask residents to endure the sound of diesel engine pumps and concrete lorry deliveries overnight”.
The FNA is measuring NO2 levels near to the site at Whitfield Street and the reading is at the legal limit. At the junction of Charlotte Street and Goodge Street the levels are 25 percent above the legal limit. High levels of PM10 have also been recorded by monitoring equipment installed nearby.
Pollution levels normally drop overnight as vehicle movements are reduced and pollution disperses. “With an overnight concrete pour this pollution will accumulate continuously from 8.00am Friday morning and through the night until 1pm on Saturday,” says the FNA in an email to local councillors.
Ahead of any final decision Multiplex have invited local residents to a “consultation” meeting on Monday 22 January. However, the announcement was sent out at very short notice on Friday evening.
“This is an open forum and an opportunity to raise any issues or concerns you may have with us regarding the night works,” said Frank Blande, senior sustainability manager at Multiplex
The FNA says that local people — both residents and businesses — are fed up with the amount of demolition and construction activity in the neighbourhood.
Camden’s officers wrote to local residents saying the council “already requires developers to complete a construction management plan which is a detailed technical document that requires them to outline their proposed method of construction. The purpose of these are to ensure that the impacts of the site on the wider environment are minimised, both from a highways safety perspective and the perspective of local amenity”.
However, Camden despite having agreed a construction and transport plan for the Charlotte Street site then allowed Derwent London and Multiplex to close part of Whitfield Street to use it as a loading yard, blocking access for local businesses and cutting off a north-south cycle route.
Community groups now fear the council will make yet more concessions to the property developers and cause more disruption, noise and air pollution.
Streets affected by overnight construction work and lorry movements to and from the site: Charlotte Street, Whitfield Street, Chitty Street, Howland Street, Fitzroy Street, Grafton Way, Goodge Street, Tottenham Street, Tottenham Court Road, Torrington Place, Gower Street.
Public consultation meeting: 6pm Monday, 22 January 2018, 80 Charlotte Street, Howland Street Gantry Meeting Room. Weekly Operations 22nd Jan – 28nd Jan 2018 (pdf).