Neighbours claim lives a misery from Falkirk council house site

Neighbours living next to a building site for new council homes say the construction work is making their lives a misery.

By Kirsty Paterson
Monday, 9th March 2020, 12:28 pm
Updated Monday, 9th March 2020, 1:43 pm

The building of 43 local authority properties in Falkirk’s Blinkbonny Road has made their lives a misery, say some of the residents who have had to cope with noise, dirt, vibrations, extra traffic and parking problems for two years now.

And while the houses are well on their way to being finished, there is still no end in sight for Summerford Road residents as their street will have to be dug up and re-laid for the second time once the building work is finished.

Richard Wilson, whose house overlooks the building site, and his neighbour John Waddell both say their 19th century properties have been damaged by the vibrations caused by ongoing work.

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The new homes on the site of the old Falkirk High School are among 600 council houses being built around the district – and they have been widely welcomed as part of a solution to a massive shortage of affordable, energy efficient houses.

But while Mr Wilson stresses he is not unhappy with the homes being built on that site, he is extremely angry at the manner in which the work has been carried out by Falkirk Council.

And despite hundreds of emails, letters, phone calls and several meetings with council bosses, he says they have done little to solve the problems he and other neighbours are having to endure.

Mr Wilson says the constant noise and vibrations that have caused walls to shake are only part of the problem.

He has taken thousands of pictures showing inconsiderate parking by people working on site along with photographs of the dust and dirt that have made the roads nearby horrendous.

He also claims that many deliveries have been made hours before the official time of 9.15 am, while many lorries come in from the wrong direction, rather than following the correct entry from Westburn Avenue.

He also has concerns about the state of Blinkbonny Road itself, saying it is now “like a patchwork quilt”.

Mr Wilson said: “The number of lorries that have come the wrong way into that site is incredible. I can assure you in the one day I have seen at least 10 lorries come in and out the wrong direction.”

He and Mr Waddell believe this is not just disturbing neighbours but also endangering pupils on their way to Falkirk High and neighbouring Bantaskin Primary.

Mr Wilson said: “They have a management plan that they have never stuck to once in 600 days!”

The worst of the vibrations was caused when a JCB was used to dig up their street, Summerford Road, in order to accommodate a surface water drain for the new houses.

They claim that this has caused damage to their properties, including an adjoining wall which has a large crack now.

Mr Waddell said: “The JCB did not have any rubber on its tracks, it was just  metal and the vibration was absolutely awful – the whole house was shaking.”

Mr Wilson says several cracks have appeared around his property and has caused damage to the lath and plaster walls.

He also says the ongoing work has caused his garden to become waterlogged, turning it into a marshy bog in some parts.

Now, they will have to endure more upset as Summerford Road needs to be completely dug up again as it has settled in a number of areas.

A council spokesperson said: “A track was dug along Summerford Road to accommodate a new surface water drain required  for the new council housing development on Blinkbonny Road.

“The road was fully reinstated, after the new drain was laid, but subsequent to the completion of the works the road surface has settled in a number of areas.

“The roads engineer, who is monitoring the situation thinks the settlement may be the result of an existing leaking water main.

“This will be investigated, and the road completely reinstated, by the Council’s roads department, following completion of the housing development.”

The council says condition surveys have been completed of both properties and Mr Waddell and Mr Wilson have been advised that a final review of the condition of their properties will be done on completion of the housing development.

Following an incident when Mr Wilson was unable to get out of his drive because of vehicles parked opposite, he and Mr Waddell have both been given cones to keep the area clear.

The spokesperson added: “Marshall Construction have had some difficulties imposing the delivery restrictions on a number of suppliers, but when consideration is given to the number of deliveries to this site, the percentage of those that have not complied is low.”

The council says that it was aware of problems with parking close to the junction of Summerford Road and Blinkbonny Road but its clerk of works is on site daily, and ensures that cars parked at the junction, by site operatives,  are moved.

They added that efforts have been made to ask contractors not to park nearby but this is very difficult to enforce as so many are subcontractors.