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Construction work at Woodberry Down Estate to be suspended

PUBLISHED: 14:48 02 April 2020 | UPDATED: 15:07 02 April 2020

Construction work on Woodberry Down. Picture: Andrew Corley

Construction work on Woodberry Down. Picture: Andrew Corley

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Construction work on Hackney’s flagship estate regeneration will be suspended this week.

Construction work on Woodberry Down. Picture: Andrew CorleyConstruction work on Woodberry Down. Picture: Andrew Corley

Berkeley Homes contractors have continued with building work on the estate during the coronavirus lockdown while following social distancing guidelines requiring workers to be two metres from each other.

But despite the government saying construction work can continue – guidance criticised by some – Berkeley is set to suspend the huge project until the crisis is over.

The move does represent a change of heart, as last week managing director Rob Perrins told workers the sites would stay open.

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In an email, seen by the Gazette, he said: “It is important that we remember the importance of what we do at Berkeley - building homes, including large numbers of affordable housing, and improving the lives of people who are currently in between properties and in the process of moving to new homes; be they private or affordable homes.”

Andrew Corley, who lives on Woodberry Down, can see work taking place from his balcony and told the Gazette before Berkeley’s decision that even though workers were following the guidance, he want Berkeley, and other firms, to take the initiative and suspend work.

“They seem to be observing social distancing,” he said. “There are up to 20 people. I’ve been reading the reports of reduced public transport services to minimise and stamp out any non-essential work and yet somehow the construction industry is continuing. Berkeley should be closing it themselves and taking the initiative.”

Construction minister Nadhim Zahawi has defended firms who have kept their construction sites open and dismissed the criticism that it is not essential work.

In a column for the Telegraph, Mr Zahawi said: “There will always be some work that cannot be done from home, whether it is construction or packing boxes in an Amazon warehouse – but we still need houses built and for deliveries to be made,” he wrote.

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