Foul language, damaged parked cars and 13 fast food deliveries - residents share misery of living next to building site
‘We couldn’t even use our garden because the children were hearing disgusting language all the time’
and live on Freeview channel 276
Neighbours living next to a building site in Bedminster say builders are making their lives a misery with foul language, damaged garden walls, muddy streets and even fast food deliveries to their home.
The residents of Brendon Road and Mascot Road also say Bristol City Council is ‘turning a blind eye’ to their complaints, which also include builders throwing stones at each other and damage to parked cars.
Despite several residents complaining many times to the council, little action appears to have been taken by enforcement officers, whose jobs are to prevent problems like these. Local councillors also questioned the “lackadaisical attitude” within the planning department.
Responding to the concerns, the property developer who owns the site is appointing a new project manager, and both have promised to address all the issues and repair relations with the local community. A council spokesman declined to answer if enforcement officers were investigating the site or taking any action, but said officers “closely monitor all development sites”.
Four houses are under construction on the building site at the end of Brendon Road. Before the construction started, the site had been left vacant for several years, and was previously used as a builders’ yard.
Peter Wall, a 76-year-old retiree, lives on Brendon Road next to the entrance of the construction site. He said he has faced builders parking in front of his driveway; dust blowing into his house and garden without warning and covering laundry hanging up outside; mud piled up against his garden wall; threats; and builders getting fast food delivered to his house.
He said: “Everything was covered in dust, and we had to change our bedsheets as our bed was covered in dust. We didn’t get any warning. They were supposed to let us know if there were any problems on the road, but we’ve never been told anything. There’s supposed to be contact details on the gate, but that’s never happened. They started delivering their meals here. It’s been 13 deliveries, so far. A chap came once and wanted to deliver bricks here.
“I feel the council has been to blame. This is terrible what’s going on here. We understand they’re very busy and short-staffed, but with the amount of complaints that have been made, and if you get a case like this, then surely it’s time to investigate. Nobody has done anything, they just ignore everything that has been said.”
One resident of Mascot Road, who asked not to be named, said four large trees in the back of his garden have been damaged, with a mound of earth piled up inches away from the trunks. A boundary fence between the trees and the building site was also damaged and later removed.
He said: “The main issue for us has been the lack of tree protection. We have four large trees at the back of our garden. There’s a mound of earth five inches from the trees. I suspect it has caused long-term damage to them. There was a rear fence which just vanished. They’ve destroyed and taken away our fence without permission. We want things to be put back as they were.
“I have complained to the council on numerous occasions. The planning enforcement team is a complete waste of space. They haven’t dealt with any of the issues. The builders are just paying lip service to planning regulations and the council is turning a blind eye to it. The council is letting them get away with it.”
He said a small lane running from Mascot Road to the construction site has been used by large diggers, despite the builders not being allowed to use the lane, damaging fence posts. He suggested the developers or builders should pay for a tree surgeon to inspect the trees at the back of his garden for any potential damage.
Speaking at a residents’ meeting on Friday, September 9, several other residents raised their concerns about safety, foul language, and poor communication on the construction site. Ward Cllrs Ed Plowden and Lisa Stone, who convened the meeting, invited a representative from the council’s planning enforcement team to answer questions, but nobody attended.
One resident at the meeting said: “We live directly behind the building site. I would say it has been a lot better recently with the new contractors. The main thing for us is that it seems impossible to communicate with anyone about the disruption to our lives. We have heard swearing for absolutely months, which was horrible. I spoke to various different people, all of whom said ‘oh we’ll have a word with them’, but nothing has changed. We couldn’t even use our garden because the children were hearing disgusting language all the time.”
Another resident added: “There was a building which stored solvents, gas canisters, all sorts of things. I saw the gas canisters being removed from the demolished area by a contractor while he was smoking. The canisters were then stored in the garages underneath the tower blocks [Holroyd House, next to the construction site]. The council were dreadful on this, it took numerous attempts to get anybody to come and visit.”
Several residents mentioned an incident last month when an argument among three young contractors and a site manager escalated into them throwing stones at each other and damaging cars parked along Brendon Road. It’s understood the row began after the contractors claimed they hadn’t been paid.
Speaking at a development control committee last month, Councillor Ed Plowden said: “For over a year, multiple residents have been complaining about the poor practices and lack of respect for neighbours. Finally after six months, the planning enforcement team paid a visit, wrote a letter, issued a notice — and have done nothing significant since. This seems only to have encouraged the poor behaviour of the contractors, who have been working as early as 6am and as late as 10pm, and right through bank holiday weekends.
“Children have been exposed to foul language and there is a general culture of disrespect and aggressive responses to anyone who raises issues. The management of the site is so poor that a battle on the street between staff and management broke out with rocks being thrown, risking neighbours’ cars, and the manager driving his vehicle at the workers who were demanding their pay.”
Bristol City Council declined to answer whether enforcement officers were investigating the building site or taking any action. A council spokesperson said: “All development sites are closely monitored by planning enforcement officers”.
At the community meeting, Cllr Plowden added: “I have some sympathy with planning enforcement, because there’s basically three of them with an entire city to deal with, it’s quite a task. I don’t think that necessarily excuses their lackadaisical attitude, but that’s at least some explanation as to why they’re not doing the best job they can.”
Feng Zhang, a property developer, bought the site in June last year, and building work started shortly after. He offered a public apology to residents living near the construction site, and said a newly appointed project manager will clear the site and rebuild garden walls “as soon as possible”, as well as address other issues.
In a statement, he said: “I would like to sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused to all the neighbours at Mascot Road and Brendon Road. I spoke with my main contractor about the issues since the community meeting; he is very unwell and still in the hospital since last Thursday. But we now have a new project manager, and we endeavour to clear the site and rebuild some neighbours’ garden walls as soon as possible.”