‘The neighbours from hell’: Furious residents slam uni over deafening demolition

Imagine living next to this monstrosity

Furious residents have lashed out at the University of Sheffield over the “deafening” demolition of the £65m Social Sciences building.

Families living just 20 metres away said that the uni has been an “awful” neighbour and proved themselves to “not care” about local residents over the building, which builders have begun to tear down due to structural problems.

Reverend and the Makers guitarist and Milburn frontman, Joe Carnall, has a garden that opens up onto the building site. He recorded the noise levels and found highs of 78 decibels and an average of 71 decibels.

This is about the same as a power lawnmower, constantly going off as you try to work throughout the house. It is slightly below the 85-decibel limit which the NHS deems to be harmful to hearing.

The average noise level is 71 decibels

He told The Tab: “The uni has just dismissed our concerns. We have two young kids, aged just one and three. They can’t play outside because it is so loud.

“My music studio is downstairs and the building site is just so noisy. I’m not even convinced that the work will be finished by 2022. We deserve some respect, this is horrendous. We’re reasonable people but this work is affecting our life. We just want to be listened to.”

Joe in his back garden, just metres away from the demolition

Conor and Mary, Hallam University academics and neighbours to the site, also spoke of how the uni has disregarded all of their concerns.

Conor said: “It’s driving me nuts. Our summer has been written off and the uni hasn’t been sympathetic at all.

“All they care about is PR. They had consultations with us only to make themselves look good – they ignored everything we had to say.”

Conor in his back garden, which looks directly over the works

“The uni needs to recognise that they’re part of the community. This massive engineering cock-up has written off our summer. They haven’t been good neighbours. In fact, they’re the neighbours from hell.

“They’ve been so cut-throat and dismissive to us. We have shadows of a crane going throughout our kitchen and dust all over our windows. All we’ve got from the uni is one letter. When is this going to end?”

The view from the flower garden is far from picturesque

Other neighbours to the site have had the same problems. Alejandra, an international student at the University of Sheffield, said the site was “very noisy” and “disruptive”. Others, including a University of Sheffield academic who wanted to remain anonymous, said that it was “obvious” building on top of a reservoir would not work.

One resident, an NHS doctor working from home who also wanted to stay off the record, said that at times the building work was so loud patients couldn’t be heard over Zoom.

Alejandra in her ear-splitting back-garden

The neighbourhood has been left directly exposed to the site following builders chopping down the trees to complete their building work. Despite the uni promising to re-build the trees, they are yet to do so.

Residents have written multiple letters to the university and some are fighting for compensation, but have little hope and have grown frustrated at the absurdity of the situation.

A spokesperson for the contractors, BAM, said: “We completely understand and appreciate that a construction site can create noise and dust. We also do apologise that work on this site will go on longer than planned due to the piling issues, which we are all very frustrated about.

“We will keep doing whatever we can to minimise noise and dust, work within the time and noise limits set out in the University’s planning permission.

“We are disappointed that all this has come about and we continue to discuss the situation with our client the University, the expert sub-contractors involved, structural engineers Mott Macdonald and piling contractor Cementation Skanska.

“Everyone’s aim has been to create a building that the University and surrounding community will be proud of and that improves on what was there before. We will ultimately achieve this, just later than originally planned, and we will keep doing what we can to reduce disruption in the meantime.”

A University of Sheffield spokesperson said: “We are very sorry about the disruption to local residents. We are working closely with the contractor BAM to look at ways that they can minimise this as much as possible. We will keep local residents informed about all the next stages of this development, including ideas around reducing further disruption.”