Piledriver leaves the lo­cals shaken and very stirred

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Mike Lock­ley Staff Re­porter

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

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