Unfortunately living in a big city means that we are never far from the noise of construction, generally the benefits of living in such a multicultural and vibrant city outweigh the negatives of the noise that inevitably comes with this. Living in close proximity to a construction site, particularly if it is of a large scale, can be inconvenient at times especially for those with young children. In order to ensure that disruption is minimised each Local Authority in London prescribes their own working hours during which necessary noisy works are permitted.
We have included a list of the London Borough Councils below, the working hours across all of these boroughs are broadly the same with a permitted timeframe of 08:00am until 18:00pm Monday to Friday and 08:00am and 08:00am to 13:00pm on Saturdays, with no noisy works allowed on Sundays or Public Holidays. The only Local Authorities whose hours differ are those of Redbridge, where noisy works can continue until 14:00pm on a Saturday and Kensington & Chelsea where no Saturday working is permitted at all.
The working hours prescribed by the Local Authority are in place to reduce the levels of inconvenience caused but also give home owners and commercial developers due opportunity to complete their works as quickly as possible. There are circumstances where Local Authorities will allow dispensation for working outside these hours although this is generally restricted to road works or emergency repairs. Businesses are sometimes disrupted by noisy, drawn-out building work, such as demolition. It is normal for office managers to approach building site managers and negotiate some respite from the noise during the working day. In extreme cases where negotiations have failed, the council may impose restrictions on the times that the noisiest works, such as pneumatic drilling, can take place. It is important to balance the needs of business against the needs of the building site, and each case will be looked at on its own merits. With regards to notifiable works under the Party Wall Act the Surveyors do have the authority to reduce the hours during which these works will take place, for example the Award can include that any works to the Party Wall cannot be undertaken before 09:00am on a Saturday to allow the neighbours some respite.
Whilst generally the Surveyors will be sympathetic to the requests of the residents it is very important to remember that any restrictions placed on the working hours will relate to notifiable works only, and these are always outlined explicitly in the Award. That said, there is also some ambiguity in this, for example the Surveyors may agree that notifiable works, including say cutting into the Party Wall for the insertion of a new steel beam cannot happen on a Saturday morning. The contractor may organise his steel delivery for a Saturday which would be a noisy activity possibly requiring a crane; would s/he therefore be in breach of the Award? Whilst the contractor may wait until Monday to cut into the Party Wall the delivery of the steel is incidental to this specific element of notifiable works. There is no hard and fast rule for this and often the residents may be required to deal with such matters informally or rely on the Surveyors to make an adjudication.
In order to minimise the transfer of dust, noise and pollution there are some minimum expectations which we have outlined here and will go into more detail in another blog:
- use of working methods which minimise dust production
- use of water spray to dampen down dusty works
- cover dusty materials, for example when stockpiled or in a skip
- regularly sweep up dust and debris
- use screening of a sufficient height and mass to prevent the spread of dust
- ensure there are no idling vehicles
In short the contractor will rely on the prescriptions of the Local Authority as to when they can carry out their works, if there are particular concerns about timings and/or restrictions it is sensible to speak to the Adjoining Owner or discuss this with your Surveyor. A solution is often easy to find if these matters are considered at the start of the programme rather than waiting until one or other of the parties feels that the inconvenience is simply too much to bear.
Below are links to the various council websites for ease:
- Barking and Dagenham
- City of London
- Hammersmith and Fulham
- Kensington and Chelsea
- Kingston upon Thames
- Richmond upon Thames
- Tower Hamlets
- Waltham Forest