Construction work in Hackney Wick halted after complaints of odour affecting schoolchildren

Here East and Mossbourne Riverside Academy. Picture: Sludge G (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Here East and Mossbourne Riverside Academy. Picture: Sludge G (CC BY-SA 2.0) - Credit: Archant

Construction work at an old studio site in Hackney Wick has been halted after complaints that odours from the ground were giving children at a nearby primary school headaches.

Parents at Mossbourne Riverside Academy in the Olympic Park say the work in Wallis Road is affecting their kids as well as themselves.

The Stone Studios site is an old architectural metalworks business that is being converted into luxury flats by developer Telford Homes.

An environmental report found the site has elevated concentrations of arsenic, lead, and asbestos fibres. Work is not meant to be taking place during school hours, but furious parents say it has been.

Following discussions with the school and Hackney Council today, Telford Homes has agreed to stop the work until it has worked out how to stop the smell.

Parent Cecilia Hammarborg said: “My child goes to school at Mossbourne Riverside Academy, and the school is in a constant cloud of pollution.

“It gives me a headache and respiratory problems just doing the school run every day. Imagine all the primary school children breathing this toxic air in all day, every day. The construction site manager has stated that they are digging out petroleum.

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“This is just unacceptable. Our health is being compromised.“

The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) approved planning permission in 2015 for the old studios to be demolished and rebuilt with 120 homes, of which 10 will be “affordable” housing. About 100 artists were kicked out as a result.

A spokesperson from Telford Homes said the odour was in no way toxic and air quality was being constantly monitored.

They added: “We are aware local residents have raised concerns around odours coming from our site.

“We have therefore temporarily stopped works on site and are working with our specialist contractor to reduce the smell from the local area to minimal levels as quickly as possible.

“Going forward we will revisit the method of working to minimise the impact of this as far as possible, while these short-term works continue.

“We will also continue to only carry out works during the agreed hours. We would like to apologise to any residents affected.”

Kim Wright, Hackney Council group director, neighbourhoods and housing, said: “The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) is the planning authority for this construction site however, after we received complaints from local residents about air quality in the area, Telford Homes agreed, at our request, to stop excavation work until they have agreed a new method of excavation with LLDC.

“We visited the site on Friday morning, and we expect the odour to reduce significantly now that excavation work has stopped.”