Medics’ air con units are ‘making life hell’, say neighbours

BMA says will review running hours of noisy generator

Monday, 30th May — By Harry Taylor

Alexandra Peter-Thomas and Beate Peter-Thomas

Alexandra and Beate Peter-Thomas

A MOTHER and daughter living in one of King’s Cross’s most picturesque streets say that the noise from an air conditioning unit at the nearby headquarters of one of the UK’s largest medical unions, installed without planning permission, is making their life hell.

Beate Peter-Thomas and her daughter Alexandra live in the historic gently curving terrace of Woburn Walk. The area is a well-known film shoot location, and has provided a backdrop to Emma Stone in Cruella and Paloma Faith in Pennyworth.

However, behind the Victorian-era parade of shops and flats, the Peter-Thomases say they are being subjected to the daily low droning buzz of a unit erected by the British Medical Association, whose Tavistock Square base backs on to their garden.

Part of the site is being sub-let to Church & Dwight, known for the Arm & Hammer brand of toothpaste.

Beate suffers from the condition ME, otherwise known as chronic fatigue syndrome. She said: “It’s on and off all day and all night, and it almost feels like it never stops. Then when it does, it might be for five minutes, and you get that sense of relief, briefly, but you can still hear it buzzing in your head. Then it starts again, and you think ‘here we go again’.”

She said the repetitive buzzing noise regularly gives her a migraine and wakes her up. “It started at 6.43am on Saturday, I remember looking at the time. I mean, what are they even doing there at that time on a Saturday?”

The BMA installed a new generator in 2021 during a Covid lockdown, but did not get planning permission and an attempt earlier this year to apply retrospectively was withdrawn. Another attempt has since been submitted.

The generator at one point was running all day and all night, but after an email now runs intermittently. However, it is still on throughout the day and provides disruption to the pair, who have lived in the council flat since 2019.

Alexandra, 24, who is studying screenwriting at Regent’s University said: “If I’m at home studying, my headphones are in, and I make sure I record my classes so I don’t miss anything because of the distraction.”

Beate, who worked in wardrobes for touring theatre companies across the UK said that she did not understand how the unit is still there, if permission had not been given.

After complaints about noise, the BMA put a “hood” on top, which helped soften it, but it is still audible from inside the house. They have complained to Camden Council about the noise.

A Camden Council spokesperson said: “Following an investigation into this case, the council have told the BMA that they needed to apply for planning permission to install the vent and generator.

“While it is disappointing that permission was not obtained before the units were installed, we have now received a related planning application and are currently waiting for further documents from the applicant to progress this.

“Once the application is registered, there will be a consultation period and all amenity issues will be considered as part of the assessment of the application.

“In the meantime, we have visited the site and provided support to the neighbouring property.”

A BMA spokesperson said it was reviewing the running hours of the generator.

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