Construction site working hours during the COVID-19 epidemic

The council recognises that building sites are permitted to operate during COVID-19 restrictions, provided they can do so safely and observe the government’s social distancing guidance.

There has been no major change to Southwark’s permitted hours for construction sites. Developers that wish to work beyond permitted or standard construction hours must apply for consent. Any application will need to demonstrate how noise will be controlled particularly where the application is for early morning, late evening or further weekend working.

Government guidance suggests that local authorities like Southwark Council should allow extended construction hours where needed to make sure the necessary social distancing measures, such as staggered start and finish times, can be implemented on site to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission among construction workers.

Local circumstances will be considered to maintain a balance between the needs of residents and the needs of construction sites.

Applications are expected to give careful consideration to residents and demonstrate best practice to mitigate noise and vibration impacts off site. As the main reason for applying for extended hours is to reduce COVID-19 transmission, applications should also detail all other measures, in addition to social distancing, that the site is taking to reduce risks to their workforce.

Advice to noise consultants due to altered noise and air quality profiles

The council has also developed planning application advice regarding the development of noise and air quality impact assessments whilst the current wider environment is 'non-standard’, due to reduced levels of pollution as a result of the lockdown.

Large parts of Southwark have been undergoing redevelopment for many years. The regeneration will continue for the foreseeable future with Southwark Council committed to building 11,000 new council homes by 2043.

Contractors need to protect persons living and working in the vicinity of, and those working on, construction and open sites against noise, vibration and dust.

Excessive noise and vibration can cause significant disturbance and health impacts, destroy residential amenity and cause considerable inconvenience to neighbours. In some circumstances, vibration can cause building damage.

Continuous day to day works and use of machinery on site, coupled with numerous vehicle movements to and from site, can result in demolition and construction sites emitting high volumes of dust and emissions to the atmosphere. Construction is a significant source of particulates (PM10/PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution.

Southwark Council recognises the on-going importance of both revitalising the borough and ensuring that quality of life is maintained so residents and businesses are protected from the environmental impacts of demolition and construction.

For detailed guidance to undertaking works in the borough, see Southwark’s Technical Guidance for Demolition and Construction (pdf, 1.4mb). Adherence to this guidance will demonstrate a positive commitment to minimising environmental impact and will be a principal means for the assessment of Best Practicable Means (BPM) compliance by the council.

A summary of details is provided below.

Noisy working hours in Southwark:

  • Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm
  • Saturday 9am to 2pm
  • Sunday and Bank Holidays no works

Excessively noisy works to take place on a 2 hours on/off basis, for instance:

  • Monday to Friday 8am to 10am, 12pm to 2pm and 4pm to 6pm
  • Saturday 11am to 1pm only

Environmental Control limits

Noise levels:

  • 70 dB(A) Leq (l0 h) Monday to Friday working day (8am to 6pm)
  • 70 dB(A) Leq (5 h) Saturday working day (9am to 2pm)
  •  75dB(A) Leq (15min) at any time

Dust levels:

  • PM10 Concentrations: 190 μg/m3 averaged over a 1-hour period

Vibration levels:

  • 1mm/sPPV for occupied residential and educational buildings
  • 3mm/sPPV for occupied commercial premises where work isn't of an especially vibration sensitive nature or for potentially vulnerable unoccupied buildings
  • 5mm/sPPV for other unoccupied buildings

The London Low Emission Construction Partnership "Best in Class Guidance" has been designed for use by developers and their contractors and aims to better understand and encourage the uptake of low emission approaches.

Page last updated: 16 September 2021

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