A few years ago, a development company acquired a small plot of land within the courtyard of a Grade II listed building and backing onto a Georgian terrace, in King’s Cross.
The courtyard was home to a disused workshop.
The Grade II listed Derby Lodge essentially surrounded the site. Derby Lodge is a block of social housing flats, run by Camden. Some are home to vulnerable tenants, some with mental health difficulties.
The development company decided they wanted to build an office block in the courtyard.
Evidently this is an absurd proposal. The site didn’t even have any frontage onto any road, being entirely enclosed by Derby Lodge and Georgian terraces.
Months followed of vigorous campaigning against the proposal, which BRAG supported. Various objections were raised, such as the loss of light to residents, the damage caused to heritage, the inappropriateness of the land use given the fact the surroundings were completely residential.
In the end close to a hundred consultation responses were received. All were objections.
The development was approved by Camden.
Construction began and it became clear that the contractors simply did not care about the impact construction was having on residents.
There are various stipulations that prohibit contractors from making too much noise, and only allow them to make noise within certain hours.
However contractors simply began and finished work whenever they liked.
Residents became infuriated at the total lack of respect shown to them. When they started complaining about the noise, the Camden officers designated to enforce against the contractors simply didn’t do anything.
Residents were told that to make a noise complaint they would have to record evidence themselves and also call Environmental Health.
However Environmental Health Officers typically take hours to arrive. After dozens of complaints Camden only accepted one as valid and did not take enforcement action.
Furthermore residents began to become afraid about making complaints as it became clear that the contractors would begin work earlier than usual to get ‘revenge’ for complaints made against them.
Residents became so infuriated that eventually one started throwing objects out their window at contractors.
‘CLG’ meetings are meetings between Camden, residents, contractor and developer. They are designed to discuss and resolve issues arising from the development and construction work.
However the contractors simply took delight in being offensive towards residents rather than discuss problems properly.
Beyond this residents observed contractors breaching all sorts of rules laid out before construction was approved. Contractors would close off roads at random without telling residents, they would not wear name badges, they covered the construction in netting rather than soundproofing material as promised. They removed asbestos without taking the proper precautions and a month before the agreed date but later claimed that they had simply miscommunicated the date.
All this was reported to Camden, and nothing was done.
Construction is still ongoing and is likely to last until the end of 2020.
A BRAG representative with knowledge and experience with CLGs is working to help residents during CLG meetings. He has been trying to secure things such as an alternative place to work funded by the developer.
Unfortunately it has become clear that residents are so utterly disenfranchised that they only want to use the meetings to abuse the contractors and developer.
We are looking into the possibility that Section 106 money could be used to pay for double glazing for residents.
It is unfortunate that there can be nothing to pay back the harm caused to residents, some of whom have almost totally lost light from their windows.