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Consultation on Noisy Saturday Construction Work Activities in the City of London

Report of the Director of Markets and Consumer Protection.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Director of Markets and Consumer Protection seeking a decision on the standard noisy construction hours arrangements for Saturday mornings in the City of London.

 

The Chairman sought clarity from the Comptroller and City Solicitor as to whether certain members of the Committee arguably had a DPI in relation to this item and whether their ability to speak and/or vote would therefore be affected. The Assistant City Solicitor confirmed that the Comptroller and City Solicitor endorsed the advice previously provided by the Town Clerk at Item 2 He did not consider members who owned property in the City had a DPI here as any  property interest would be too remote  to the subject of the report. She added that it was, however, a matter for each member to decide, and the City Solicitor can only speak for himself, but as far as he is concerned in his role as Monitoring Officer, he is happy to confirm that he has no expectation of any self-referrals being made by any member due to their participation in this agenda item.

 

The Director of Port Health and Public Protection provided Members with some background to this issue and highlighted that it was something that the Port Health and Environmental Services Committee had requested Officers to look at and consult upon. It also had implications for the Planning and Transportation Committee as this Committee took decisions on conditions which could be applied to planning applications. Members were informed that a three-month consultation process had taken place around the suggested hours and that the results of this consultation were detailed within the papers.

 

The Director also went on to highlight the potential options now open to Members around juggling construction times between the needs of residents and necessary construction activities. He also highlighted that all constructors were expected to abide by the City’s Code of Practice which did include appropriate liaison with local residents. He concluded by stating that Counsel had been consulted throughout the process.

 

In response to questions, the Assistant Director Public Protection reported that there were quiet periods of 10:00-12:00 and 14:00-16:00 built in to weekday standard working hours. She clarified that noisy works were permitted on a Saturday although constructors were asked to take residents in to account and look at the possibility of sequencing works for example.

 

A Member reported that construction noise had long been an issue for both businesses and residents in the City. She stated that there had been cases previously where developers/constructors had proactively worked through a programme of works alongside Environmental Health and had negotiated noisy working hours with local residents. She stated that she would like to see this approach adopted going forward whereby works could be negotiated with local residents/businesses and the Environmental Health Team on a case by case basis. She added that more information on such works was also needed on the City’s website so that those affected were kept adequately and regularly informed and were satisfied that any necessary consultation and mitigation measures were in place.

 

Other Members agreed with this point of view. A Member highlighted that Saturday works would inevitably have more of an impact on residents than businesses. He stated that he was in favour of option d.i. within the report (patrial permissions) and changing standard noisy Saturday construction hours City wide to 0900 to 1400 with the onus being on developers to consult and negotiate with residents around this option.

 

A Member stated that he had issues with the statistics provided within the report, an issue which he had previously raised at the Port Health and Environmental Services Committee in 2017. He referred to the 725 responses received to the consultation on this matter, 78% of which were attributable to individuals. He questioned whether these individuals were mostly City workers who would therefore not be affected, for the most part, by proposals on noisy Saturday working. The report went on to state that 21% of all responses were from organisations. If a response was, for example, sent in from one organisation how could this be classed as representative of the views of all of its employees.

 

The Member went on to argue in favour of option d.ii. – not permitting noisy construction works on Saturdays near residential areas. He also questioned the reference within the report to the potential negative impacts of Saturday noisy working on certain protected groups suggesting that the response from the City on this point was weak.

 

The Member explained that the original request from the Port Health and Environmental Services Committee had been to consider the banning of noisy Saturday working near residential areas. This report had therefore been irrelevantly expanded and should therefore be rejected.

 

A Member stated that he too had concerns around the consultation on this matter and was concerned to see a relatively low response rate. He added that the question posed almost implied that if Saturday noisy work were to be banned there would be no noise from elsewhere in the City on those days. He went on to state that he felt that businesses were as entitled as residents to a view on this matter but that there were perhaps more appropriate ways to consult on this such as physical meetings with different affected groups. He concluded by stating that less noisy work on a Saturday could perhaps translate to more noisy work during the week which would have an impact on businesses and residents alike.

 

A Member stated that he was surprised that Option d.ii. within the report suggested that residential areas in the City were not able to be defined in any workable and/or fair way given that a lot of work had been done around this within the recently drafted Local Plan. He suggested that a more pragmatic view be taken on this with noisy Saturday works not recommended in residential areas unless by exception.

 

An Alderman stated that he agreed with the fact that local communities should be involved in negotiating appropriate hours with developers around a set timeframe on a case by case basis. This would be preferable to a blanket policy.

 

A Member questioned whether works carried out by statutory undertakers could also be controlled. He highlighted that they often had equipment to limit the noise impact of their works. The Member went on to highlight that the City was a noisy place regardless of any controls that ay be put in place around noisy Saturday construction work. He added that works in neighbouring boroughs also often impacted on City residents.

 

A Member stated that he felt it was appropriate that the consultation had included all stakeholders but that the responses were predictable with the majority of workers not having strong views around noisy Saturday works and most residents preferring not to have them at all. The Member reminded the Committee that the City were in competition with other commercial sectors and that the impact, in this respect, of any restrictions imposed therefore needed to be considered. He argued that it would be difficult to take a ‘zoning’ approach to different areas of the City and give any special/preferential treatment to particular locations. It might also be argued, if this were the case, that certain resident Members did have a conflict of interests. The Member concluded by stating that he had taken the opportunity to look at the approach adopted elsewhere to this and that noisy Saturday construction works were generally permitted. Although there was some variance in permitted hours, it would appear bizarre for the City to prohibit such activities given that similar steps had not been taken anywhere else.

 

At this point, the Chairman sought approval from Committee Members to continue the meeting beyond two hours from the appointed time for the start of the meeting, in accordance with Standing Order 40, and this was agreed.

 

An Alderman agreed with the point made and that it would be a mistake to differentiate between different parts of the City which was open to businesses and residents alike.

 

The Director of Port Health and Public Protection responded to some concerns around the consultation by reassuring Members that this had taken the same form as similar consultation exercises carried out elsewhere across the organisation. The approach had also been agreed by the Port Health and Environmental Services Committee and advice from Counsel had been sought at every stage. He went on to state that the advice received had also suggested that it would be discriminatory for the City to not look at the whole of the Square Mile when developing any policy on this matter. He agreed with the points made by Members relative to close liaison between constructors, Environmental Health and residents on noisy Saturday works and suggested that Officers could look to maximise what was already in place around this.

 

A Member moved that the Committee consider that noisy construction works on Saturdays should not be permitted near residential areas of the City. This was seconded and put to the vote. Votes were cast as follows:

 

            FOR – 5 Votes.

            AGAINST – 13 Votes.

 

The motion was therefore not carried.

 

Another Member moved that the Committee look to adopt Option d. i. within the report and change standard noisy Saturday construction hours City wide to 0900 to 1400. This was seconded and put to the vote. Votes were cast as follows:

 

            FOR – 11 Votes

            AGAINST – 7 Votes.

 

The motion was therefore carried.

 

The Chairman thanked Members for their contributions and stated that it was now for the Committee to await the decision of the Port Health and Environmental Services Committee on this same matter.

 

RESOLVED – That, the Planning and Transportation Committee:

 

1.    Note the assessment and evidence set out in Appendices 3-6 and 8;

2.    Consider the report on the outcome of public consultation set out in Appendix 2;

3.    Having considered 1. and 2. above and read the legal comments of the City Solicitor set out in Appendix 9 and having, both when considering 1. and 2. above and at all stages throughout, complied with the City’s duties set out in this report, including reading and considering the Equality Impact Assessment at Appendix 7 and having due regard to the needs set out in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, decide that standard noisy construction hours arrangements for Saturday mornings in the City of London are changed City wide to 0900 to 1400.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supporting documents:

 


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