Construction works on a Lambeth estate are so loud tormented residents cannot hear each other over the dinner table, while their windows are vibrating from the constant drilling.  

Homes for Lambeth (HfL), the council’s wholly owned building company, is redeveloping South Lambeth Estate as part of its controversial ‘regeneration programme’. 

Most of the estate, except for the ten-storey Wimborne House, is set to be demolished to make way for 362 new homes. 

Phase 1 of the redevelopment, led by HfL, involves a block in the carpark in front of Wimbourne House, providing 30 homes, 18 at council rent. 

But residents say the works have been beset by a catalogue of errors, delays, and poor communication. 

Lambeth Council promised residents that it would create a rear entrance for Wimbourne House before work began on Phase 1 at the front. 

Wandsworth Times: There is still no access at the rear

It started work on the rear – residents say without proper warning – in January 2020 by clearing the carpark and felling some trees. 

But despite not having finished the work, which also involves refurbishing the concierge’s office, HfL started work on Phase 1 anyway in October. 

A video filmed in the bathroom and bedroom of a flat in Wimbourne House highlights the level of noise residents are forced to endure.  It starts early in the morning until late afternoon. 

The estate has been described as a “bombsite”, with residents’ homes encased in hoardings and no direct access for emergency services. Only a narrow pathway has been created.

On Friday, May 28, an ambulance arrived after being called to Wimbourne House but paramedics drove around, confused, for a while before being directed up the pathway to the front door.  

Wandsworth Times:

Residents are very concerned that a delay to a serious call-out could mean the difference between life and death.  

They are also worried about fire safety – several of the fire doors are not working in Wimbourne House, while a significant section of the building is inaccessible should there be a fire.  

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Green Cllr Pete Elliott, who has been supporting residents on the estate, alerted the council about the problem and was told that 24/7 security is in place to direct emergency services.

But it was residents who had to lead the paramedics to the door on May 28. 

It also emerged last week that an elderly woman who had to suffer weeks of construction work before being moved out has died.  

The council set up a mitigation panel, but left it until the works had already started. 

The woman was ringing up daily “begging them to stop the noise because her place was shaking so much”. 

When a mitigation hearing was organised, the council had to order the workers to stop the noise for the duration of the hearing because it was so loud. 

The woman in question was housebound and had previously suffered a stroke. The day the council eventually moved her out, she suffered another one and ended up in hospital for two months. 

Cllr Elliott said: “Two weeks ago, one highly respected and much-loved member of the South Lambeth Estate community passed away.  

“She had lived in Wimborne House since 1991 and was due to turn 80 years of age next month. Last year she suffered for eight weeks trapped in her flat, under Covid restrictions, with loud drilling shaking her flat from underneath.  

“Despite pleas from her and her family, the noise was not stopped and by the time she was eventually moved, she was literally at her wits end.  

“She had a stroke the day she moved out and had then been in and out of hospital getting weaker until she passed away.” 

The council also set up a residents’ engagement panel (REP), which was supposed to keep residents in the loop. 

But residents say there is a high turnover of staff and no record keeping of concerns and questions. 

Dr Dreenagh Lyle, chair of the estate’s Tenants and Residents Association (TRA), lives on the ground floor in a purpose-built flat with her daughter, who has profound and multiple disabilities. 

Her daughter has been very badly affected by the works and is now on medication to deal with them.   

“Which is outrageous because she’s 46 and I’ve avoided medication all her life. Now I’m having to do it because she’s in such a state.  

“The noise is non-stop. I got woken up this morning at 7.15am - I get woken every morning by men’s voices yelling, banging doors. That starts anywhere between 7am and 7.30am.  

“I’m trying to manage the noise out the back and then this starts [noise on HfL side]. I found out there are four different contractors working on this site and they’re all arguing with each other every day.” 

Wandsworth Times:

One resident, a shift worker, said her sleep has been very badly affected as she works nights.  

Another, Tom, who took the video recording the noise of the works, said all the natural light he had before the works has been taken away.  

“The whole front of our flat is cold and dark, even in this nice weather,” he said.  

Residents believe HfL is trying to speed through the work before the local elections next May so they can say they’ve built homes.  

Dreenagh and other residents have been asking for information for years after being notified of the planned redevelopment. 

Residents say they have no idea of the works timeline, have asked for an equality impact assessment, health and safety report, a fire safety report from the start of the works, and a report on the noise. 

The council has only provided a fire safety report dated from December 2020. 

People have also reported increased allergies from the dust, while people with respiratory problems have suffered increased infections. 

There have also been problems with burst water pipes and delays with repairs. 

HfL has not responded for comment. 

A spokesperson for the council said it was “committed to tackling Lambeth’s housing crisis by building hundreds of new homes for council rent in the borough”.  

“But we don’t underestimate the stress that building work on an estate can cause for the people living there.  

“We have kept residents informed about the progress of the work and apologised for any disruption they have experienced.  

“We have assurances that the building works pose no threat to emergency vehicles’ ability to respond to any call at Wimborne House, and the construction site has provision for emergency vehicle access at the front of the building.  

“Access can be provided by the security patrol who are on site round the clock. There is also uninterrupted access to the rear of Wimborne House, and London Fire Brigade have been informed of the new dry riser location and confirmed it is accessible to their vehicles.  

“We have updated all affected households and the local resident association throughout – and have worked with our contractor on the job to make sure they are as considerate as possible while they are on site.  

“We have held a number of mitigation panels and have listened and taken on board the concerns raised by those residents with extra needs, including re-housing whilst the works take place. 

“Where residents have concerns we have worked hard to address them, and will continue to do so.”