A $36 million project has sparked some problems in Wickham. The construction of the Huxley Apartments resulted to legal battles and physical clash between neighbors, builders, and union officials. Many businessmen and residents who are running a company or living near the building site on Beresford Street said they have been dealing with the dust, noise, and road closures brought on by the construction of the 64 storey apartment.
In the meantime, Basebuild, the construction company working on the project, said the reported problems are part of its “growing pains.” The 16th-month construction project is expected to be finished this month and two union officials are also scheduled to see each other in court because of a physical altercation which took place in 2016. Before this took place, representatives of the Construction, Mining and Energy Union visited the site to check on the safety problems there were complained by some workers. A heated argument occurred and the site manager was allegedly assaulted by the officials because he objected to the spot inspection. The police escorted the union while officials who performed a subsequent inspection found violations on health and safety laws in the site. CFMEU Newcastle office coordinator Peter Harris said they were concerned of another altercation. He also noted that the union denied the builder’s claim and said they will defend their officials in court. The union added that they are not required to inform of anybody about a spot inspection especially if it was triggered by complaint’s about site safety. They were legally bound to perform the inspection.
Meanwhile, a SafeWork NSW spokesperson declined to comment on the matter. Instead, he said that improvement notices were already issued to prevent falls from heights and scaffolding as well as promote electrical safety. The spokesperson also said that SafeWork NSW visited the construction site several times last year. During that time, they found no work health and safety issues. On the other hand, Basebuild Managing Director Scott Shafren described it as minor issues, which they already addressed. However, he remained mum about the alleged assault on the company’s site manager and said that the issue is already being heard by the court.
Furthermore, the company still problems with businesses in adjacent locations like Metro Cycles and Bank Corner Café. They claim that the construction work are driving customers away. They said they had to suffer from of “dust storms” and construction noise at 80 to 90 decibels. Bank Corner Café Manager Monique Lee said the dust that resulted from the construction has negatively affected their health. One resident also claimed that his family had no choice but to move out of the Cove Apartments because his son got ill because of the dust storms. His health problems immediately disappeared after they transferred to a new location. Base build Managing Director Scott Shafren said they have taken the needed measures regulating and getting rid of the awful effects of dust while they do the work. The owner of Metro Cycles Bernie Hocking also had his own set of complaints. He said two-thirds of the parking spaces were lost because of the project and his business has suffered as a consequence. He added that construction workers came in early to reserve more of the parking spaces. To answer that, Shafren said workers were already told to car pool and in locations that were approved by the council.