Piledriver leaves the locals shaken and very stirred
RESIDENTS in a quiet Birmingham terrace say homes have been hit by a “miniearthquake” that has cracked plaster and windows – and sent cutlery dancing off tables and onto cupboards.
The damage, however, has not been caused by freak weather conditions, householders in Ashley Terrace, Selly Oak, claim.
They say the upheaval is down to pile-driving work by contractors working for developers Persimmon Homes.
The company is creating a 650home estate on the 43-acre former Selly Oak Hospital site.
Householders in neighbouring Grove Terrace have also voiced concern.
Persimmon, however, stress they have worked closely with Birmingham City Council. And tests by the local authority have shown vibrations created by the pile-driver fall within legal limits.
They have not breached any rules, stressed local councillor Liz Clements, who was contacted by householders close to the site.
Persimmon have been working in the area for over 18 months, but moved piledriver operations within yards of Ashley Terrace last Tuesday.
Since then, residents say the effect has been similar to living on a fault line.
Rooms shake and pictures plummet from walls as the 20-foot piledriver shakes the earth from 8am to 4pm, they claim.
Broadcast engineer Tom Poole says he received a letter warning of the work a day after it started. We have seen Persimmon’s letter, dated November 19: it states “piling work” will begin on Wednesday, November 21. In fact, it began 24 hours earlier, he says.
The note states piling will take two weeks and warns: “You may experience small levels of vibration during this time. We apologise for any inconvenience caused and thank you for your co-operation.”
News of “small levels of vibrations” are an understatement, Mr Poole insists.
“You can feel the vibrations,” said the 45-year-old. “It’s like a small earthquake. You have to accept living next to a site is going to mean there is some disruption, but this is disgusting.
“I have a disabled neighbour and her home was literally rocking, she was bouncing up and down. Cracks appeared. I have tiles off at the back.”
John Aiken-Alexander said: “There are no words to describe it.”
The 62-year-old, whose home is owned by Family Housing Associa- tion, added: “I have cracks on the walls and cracked windows. Mirrors have come off the walls. It is coming up to Christmas – this is the last thing I need.
“It is happening feet from my back garden – three whacks a second – and it is a total misery.
“My two grandchildren came to stay and they were terrified. What’s happening is outrageous.”
Councillor Clements urged Persimmon to show respect. She said: “The impact on people close to the boundary fence is terrible. It is a constant buzzing and vibration. But censors have been checked and the vibrations are within the statutory limits. The work cannot be stopped. All we can do is appeal to Persimmon to consider the wellbeing of residents.”
Cllr Clements has urged developers to consider alternatives to a pile-driver.
A spokesman for Persimmon Homes Central said: “Piling works are under way at our Selly Oak development and representatives from Persimmon Homes and Birmingham City Council have met on site and agreed a detailed monitoring regime while the works are undertaken.
“Persimmon Homes are working closely with Birmingham City Council’s environmental team to ensure the works are completed in accordance with all guidance.”
> Tom Poole, right, and the piledriver near Grove Terrace, Selly Oak