FED-UP residents have told how noisy building works in Basildon town centre are keeping them awake at night – and lunchtime diners may be to blame.
Work to demolish the top eight levels of the Aviva building, at the back of the Eastgate Centre, was originally taking place during the day.
However, following complaints from diners at the centre that the noise was disrupting their lunch, the working hours have been made more flexible, with builders able to continue until 10pm.
Furious residents have hit out at the noise, claiming work sometimes goes on until midnight.
Lesley Bailey, who lives with her eight-year-old son, Jake, in Brooke House, said: “They said it would finish at 10pm, but it’s carrying on until midnight some nights.
“It’s been going on for weeks.
“I rang environmental health at Basildon Council and they said it was too noisy for people eating at Eastgate and they weren’t eating there, so they changed the working hours.
“Jake can’t get to sleep and I feel like a zombie. It’s infuriating.
“I just feel they’re being really selfish. How would they like it if this was happening on their doorstep?” The top eight floors of the Aviva building are being demolished after the Eastgate Centre, which owns the tower, decided to cut its losses and get rid of the building, after trying to sell it since it became vacant in 2008.
A proposal to turn it into flats was shelved last summer.
The bottom two levels, which are still in use, will remain untouched. Natasha Griggs, 35, who also lives in Brooke House, said her five-year-old son Zac was being woken up twice a night by jack hammers.
She said: “It isn’t fair. I know this is the town centre, but we’re residents and we have kids to get to sleep and jobs to go to.
“One of my neighbours even reported the noise to the police station, but we can’t do anything about it, because Basildon Council has given permission for this to happen.
“My son is going to school tired. This is affecting residents but nobody cares.”
Ian Clark, centre manager at Eastgate, said: “The demolition works at the former Aviva building are being carried out in agreement with Basildon Council, following the satisfactory testing of working methods over the evening of Monday, June 30.
“The additional working hours have been agreed so as to accelerate the project, and bring the works to a conclusion as soon as possible for the benefit of local residents and Eastgate retailers and visitors alike.”
He would not comment about whether the change had anything to do with diners’ complaints, but said work would be complete by September.
BASILDON Council has given builders permission to work until 10pm every night.
The authority said the aim was to shorten the amount of time it will take for the work to be completed.
Only one more floor remains to be demolished.
A council spokesman denied work would ever continue until midnight.
He said: “To achieve the right blend of working hours on the demolition project, in order to satisfy both local residents and businesses while work progresses, the council’s environmental health team is trialling flexible late working, which is aimed at shortening the overall scheme to minimise potential disruption.
“We review this on a daily basis and have the authority to order an earlier finish if work becomes too noisy. To date we’ve not received any complaints that would warrant a shut-down.
“While we sympathise with residents living near the demolition site, it’s hoped they will bear with us while we try to shorten the time it will take to complete.”