Students long for sound of silence

Students have complained to Coventry City Council as noise from building work on Rootes field continues to disrupt revision and sleep patterns.

Many residents of Rootes and International House have been unable to study in their rooms during the exam period due to the disturbances.

Zuzanna Rabikowska, a first-year French and English student, set up a Facebook group as a forum for complaints. The group has so far attracted over 150 members.

“I think it is important that the University realises how many students are affected and to what extent the construction site has forced many Rootes residents to loose sleep and change their daily living patterns to avoid the noise,” said Rabikowska. “I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask Warwick Accommodation for compensation.”

Students charge that building work has started as early as 7:15 am, while during the day they cannot open their windows due to dust and noise.

Graham Atkins, a first year Physics student, said he had moved his bed away from the window and “during the daytime it’s so loud, it puts me off [revision]”.

Student accommodation contracts for Rootes and International House this year included a warning about the construction site, leaving many students unsure whether they have a legitimate cause for complaint.

Phil Hopkins, studying Politics, said: “I’m quite aware that we don’t have a leg to stand on because we were warned… [but] I can’t open my window during the day because of the noise of the bulldozers. It’s pretty hard to work in your room because it gets so hot.”

Hopkins said he “wasn’t aware it would be this close to us… I didn’t expect it to be in our ‘back garden’.”

Sami Wannell, Welfare Officer for the Students’ Union, has set up a web page to help students contact the Council and the University should they wish to complain. “The same noise can affect people differently”, commented Wannell, “whether its high-pitched, constant or loud”.

Wannell maintained that students do have a legal right to complain as they cannot use their rooms freely, which could mean that the University is in breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment of one’s property. He argued that the Council is more likely to take action if a large number of people complain.

“The noise should be measured as to whether it is ‘unreasonable’,” said Wannell, adding that Council pressure could “incentivise” the University to start work later in the day.

The construction work mainly affects students with rooms facing onto the field, with those on the courtyard-side of the buildings suffering less disturbance.

Some students are also finding it easier to live with the noise. Eilidh, a first year Sociology student, said: “I’ve just put my headphones on… I can just work with the noise, some people can’t.”

Kelly Parkes-Harrison, Press Officer for the University, said: ”Warwick Accommodation has been exemplary in relation to communication about the building work. They have regularly updated an information website and they have responded to any student who has contacted them via the official messaging route.

“Warwick Accommodation has offered to move students who are finding themselves disturbed by noise, but as far as I am aware, no student has taken them up on the offer,” she added.

The Council’s Environmental Health Department have a process to deal with noise complaints whereby a letter is first sent to the perpetrator if the noise is deemed a Statutory Nuisance, and, if it continues, a Notice can be served to legally limit the duration of the noise.

A spokesman for Coventry City Council said: “Environmental Health issue guidance to construction companies covering issues [such as] noise and vibration, air pollution and night working.

“There are recommendations for noisy work to only take place between certain hours and environmental health would need to give permission for noisy work to take place outside these hours.”

He added: “We have received a number of complaints, however, we do believe the guidelines have been followed.”


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