Gretton family 'having nightmares' after work restarted on shut-down building site

Safety concerns have prompted a family to move their belongings out of part of their property after work restarted on a building site next to their home

By The Newsroom
Monday, 14th October 2019, 7:00 am
The Clements family have lived in Clay Lane, Gretton for 23 years.
The Clements family have lived in Clay Lane, Gretton for 23 years.

Dave and Elaine Clements and their children have had to move all the possessions from their garage into storage after their insurance company said the garage on the side of their house was now too dangerous to use.

The family have watched as their immaculate home has developed cracks since a huge precipice was dug out at the side of their home by builders who the Health and Safety Executive said did not have the correct advice from a professional engineer.

Dave said: "You just lie there at night listening out for it, worrying, having dreams about it.

The slope when it was dug back in June. Shuttering has since been installed half way down the slope.

"Since the cracks appeared in our youngest daughter's room she's been having nightmares that she's going to wake up in the night and the house will be gone."

Back in June, a stop notice was placed on the building site in Station Road by Corby Borough Council after developer Edren Homes began work without the correct construction management plan in place.

The Health and Safety Executive also raised its own concerns over the site - slapping the developer with three improvement notices and three prohibition notices during June and July, ordering them to take urgent action to ensure that the slope behind three homes - two in Arnhill Road and Dave Clements's home in Clay Lane - did not collapse.

But in September the builder met the conditions imposed by the HSE and re-started work on the five-home plot - which took several developers 12 years, five planning applications and four appeals to get permission to build on.

One of the cracks that Dave says has appeared since the building work started

Since then, Dave has had a bore hole dug in his garden by his insurers to measure the water pressure on the slope that his house sits half way down. They are visiting his home on a regular basis to check how far it has moved.

He said: "They've said if water starts to come out of the top of the bore hole then we've to get straight out of the house.

"When they started the work you could hear our glasses rattling the cupboards.

"It seems the whole slab's moved that the garage sits on.

Work continues apace on the site

"We are now having to move all of our things out of the garage and into storage, including our Christmas lights.

"We're concerned that if the garage goes, it will take the house with it.

"This is not going to be solved quickly.

"Every time it moves a bit further we're worried they'll come and tell us to move out of the house."

The join between the garage and the rest of the house

The Clements family puts on a spectacular fundraising lights display that raises thousands for charity each year. This year's display has had to be cancelled.

"We can't do anything now until the bank is stabilised," said Dave. "And that could be months away."

Shuttering has been put in place a few metres from the house but a steep slope still remains. It will eventually need to be backfilled against a retaining wall to make the site permanently safe.

Dave, a security system installer who has been working voluntarily for the past week on the Corby DIY SOS programme, said that the support the family have had from the village has been overwhelming.

"It's been fantastic," he said.

"We couldn't have asked for more. We've had all kinds of offers of help."

Dave's daughter's room was only decorated a few months ago but these cracks have opened up.

Despite the fact that building on the site was so controversial in the local community, Dave was not one of those that objected.

"We have no problem with the site being built on," he said.

"We are happy that it's not a wasteland anymore. It's just the build that's had such a bad impact on us.

"We feel like our lives are on hold. We can't decorate or do anything to the house as we don't know what work needs to be done to fix it."

A representative for building company Edren Homes which is developing the site said that the company acknowledged that there had been issues with communication but said that there had been no proof that their work had caused the cracks, adding that they were hoping to build a retaining wall as soon as possible to help ensure the safety of Dave's house.

A Health and Safety Executive spokesman said: "HSE is aware and our investigations are ongoing."

And a Corby Council spokeswoman said: "Corby Borough Council served several notices on the developer at 9 Station Road to attempt to resolve a breach of planning control.

"A Breach of Condition, Enforcement and Stop Notice were served and all had specific requirements and timescales to comply.

"The developer corresponded with planning officers and as a result a formal application to discharge conditions was submitted and subsequently approved on September 12. All the required and relevant planning conditions have now been discharged.

"As a result, compliance with the requirements of the formal notices that were served on site was confirmed, the displayed notices were removed and the development was lawfully allowed to re-commence.

"Officers from the Council continue to monitor the development and inspections are carried out on a regular basis.

"The embankment and sheet piling (are) a public safety matter then the HSE are the statutory legislators and are responsible for this area. The HSE have been constantly updated and advised of the actions taken by CBC."

Dave's garage, in red. The green site to the left of his home has been excavated.