Householders in Abbots Road, Grangemouth, face a fortnight of fear later this month when Bell Contracts begin to drive piles into the soil on land near Grangemouth Sports Complex where a nursery formerly stood.
The work is being carried out just yards away from some properties which date back to the 1950s, with one house built back in 1935.
The Inverness-based contractors were awarded the year-long job to build 14 houses for Falkirk Council back in May and residents were initially happy with the plan – until they found out last Tuesday pile driving – or piling – would be involved.
One Abbots Road householder, who did not want to be named, said: “We’ve known about this for over a year and attended the consultation event in Grangemouth council buildings to see the plans.
“We realised it would be noisy and dusty, but we were pleased people would be getting housed and the land was being developed so we raised no objections. Then we had these people from the council showing up at our door last week demanding to get in to take photographs.”
Alarm bells went off for residents, some in their 70s and 80s, when representatives from Falkirk Council arrived on the morning of Tuesday, July 10, and visited properties near the building site to take photographs and survey the various premises inside and out.
“It was really just an invasion – they just showed up said they were from the council and started taking pictures. That’s when I knew they were worried about damage to our properties and we found out about the piling. There was no communication about this beforehand.”
A Falkirk Council spokesperson said: “Residents living next to this site have been advised that condition surveys will be carried out on their properties prior to the construction works starting. The surveys give us an accurate record of the condition of these properties before construction work has started, and which can be reviewed once the works have been completed.”
But the residents were not impressed with the response. Another said: “It’s the most ill-conceived development ever. If they knew that ground wasn’t suitable for building on without piling they shouldn’t have agreed to build 14 houses on it.
“I asked them, what if there is structural damage to my house? They said something about my insurance being able to cover it, but they were just waffling really.
“Obviously if we knew about this we would have done more about it before now. If it had just been straight forward digging in foundations that would have been fine, but piling is the most unpleasant thing ever. Driving something into the ground constantly for eight hours every day. We don’t want the hassle with insurance claims. I’ve fought so many battles in my day I cannot fight any more.”
The home owners said the developers told them they would be fitting vibration devices on the site to monitor the situation.
The Falkirk Herald contacted Bell Contracts this week to find out why pile driving was the preferred method of construction, but had received no response from the firm as the newspaper went to press.
When they learned about the piling, residents raised their concerns with Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald.
He said: “It is only right these concerns are addressed as soon as possible, and residents are given the reassurance and peace of mind these works will have minimal impact on their properties and that any damage can, and will, be covered by the council if necessary.”