Bedrooms on the hard shoulder of a motorway: welcome to the homes from hell

Families take historic stand against council for withdrawing protection against noise pollution

When five-year-old Blue Rendell looks out of the bedroom window, she could be sitting on the hard shoulder of a motorway.

The juggernaut that thunders past, barely 10ft away, is one of 86,000 vehicles that cross Canning Town flyover each day, subjecting the Rendell family to a constant din equivalent to the sound of a pneumatic drill operating outside the house.

The local council's idea of giving the Rendells and other families in the poor east Londonneighbourhood a little respite was to rip out their protective windows. Yesterday, in a historic action, 16 Canning Town families, all local authority tenants, served summonses on the London Borough of Newham, seeking damages for noise nuisance and breach of contract.

The case is remarkable in that council environmental health officers are meant to police noise pollution. Yet they cannot prosecute their own bosses.

So, the families have brought their own county court action. Solicitor Claire Hodgson, of Leigh Day in London, said: "It's astonishing the council can take away such essential noise protection and not consider the consequences. My clients' lives have been very seriously affected. We will be pressing for fast and effective action from Newham and damages for the harm they have caused."

The families say they feel that they are living "sat on a pavement". Freight lorries go past throughout the night.

The windows of the Rendells' front bedroom have been smashed by stones thrown up bypassing traffic. Hub caps have landed in the garden, along with a section of central reservation.

Blue's mother, Jackie, 34, said: "My children live closest to school, but have the worst attendance records, because they are woken up every few minutes."

The neighbourhood was quiet when the houses went up in 1972. A year later the fly-over was built, opening a gateway from the City to the Essex coast. The Highways Agencyagreed to fit houses in and around Lawrence Street, adjacent to the flyover, with protective windows. They came with air vents which meant they did not have to be opened.

Twenty years later, Newham council stepped in. The old protective windows were pulled out and a form of secondary glazing substituted. The tenants have obtained evidence which shows that while the old windows met with noise regulations, their replacements did not. Noise levels of 60 decibels inside the houses are now more than double the level they were before the council took action.

The new windows were so poorly fitted that some tenants could put a hand through a gap between the glass and the frame. Rain poured in.

A council spokesman said the matter had been discussed by the authority's housing committee. He would not discuss the legal action in advance of the council preparing its defence.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Sales Advisor - OTE £35,000

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telephone Sales Advisor is re...

Recruitment Genius: Appointment Maker - OTE £20,000

£14000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An office based Appointment Mak...

Recruitment Genius: Healthcare Assistant

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This provider of care services is looking for...

Recruitment Genius: Lettings Administrator

£16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Purpose of Role: To co-ordinate maintena...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent