Demolition and building works can be a considerable source of environmental nuisance to the occupants of nearby residential or commercial properties.

The objective of these guidelines is to make sure the development goes smoothly with the minimum of disruption to your neighbours and without the need for legal action to be taken by us if problems arise. 

Section 80 of the Building Act 1984 requires the person intending to demolish a building to give us six weeks notice of the demolition. We may then impose conditions appropriate to the scale of the demolition. Notifications should be addressed to our building control section.

We are is committed to ensuring that disruption to local residents and businesses is kept to a minimum, as far as practicable, during building works.  A Code of Practice has been adopted by the council which strengthens this commitment and provides guidance to all parties on controlling environmental impacts.  The code includes requirements relating to working hours, and the control of noise, dust and smoke.  Applicants should also consider the code when compiling instructions for contractors or when preparing their construction and environment management plans.


Demolition and construction companies must ensure that noise levels are kept to a minimum by using the best practicable means to silence their operations.

For operations that will be heard outside the site boundary, it is our experience that few complaints about early start of working will be made when the following working hours are adopted:

  • Monday to Friday: 8am-6pm
  • Saturday: 8am-1pm
  • With no working on Sundays or public holidays

Pile driving and other specialist noisy operations may need more stringent controls to be applied.

In particular, pumps or generators that can be heard at the site boundary should not be left running overnight.

We have legal powers under section 60 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 and Section 80 and 80A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to serve notices on contractors in order to limit their operations where noise problems arise.

Occupiers of neighbouring properties, both residential and commercial, also have the right to pursue legal action against contractors under the same legislation.

If you feel your project will have a significant impact on neighbouring premises, from noise or vibration, it is possible to apply to us for a 'prior consent' (under Section 61 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974).

This is an agreement between the developer and us which allows a certain level of noise to occur. Having such an agreement can protect you from further legal action.


The emission of dark smoke from a bonfire on a demolition or building site is an offence under the Clean Air Act 1993. It is our general policy to prosecute all such offenders.

Even if the smoke is not dark, the bonfire can still cause a nuisance from smoke, smell or ash and we have legal powers to stop such bonfires should a nuisance occur.

Bonfires should be avoided wherever possible

If they are absolutely necessary then please get advice from us  and Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service 

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service
Service Headquarters
The Knowle
Clyst St George

01392 872 200 (24 hours)


Dust can also become a problem and you should take all reasonable steps to avoid it.

This may include damping down sand, aggregate or dusty concrete surfaces with water sprays when weather conditions become dry.

Health and safety at work

The Health and Safety Executive is the enforcing authority for health and safety legislation on demolition and construction sites. 

You have a duty to protect not only yourself, your employees and other employees, but also visitors to the site and members of the public who may be affected by your actions or inactions.

If you need any advice on this topic, the Health and Safety Executive's address and telephone number is: 

Health and Safety Executive

North Quay House
Sutton Harbour
PL4 0RA 

Obstruction and damage to pavements

Please make sure that pavements are not blocked or obstructed, even for a short time, by plant, materials, hoardings, vehicles or deliveries. 

In particular, the special needs of disabled people, for example, the blind, who might encounter unexpected obstacles, holes, trenches and suchlike should be given special attention.

Special precautions should be taken to avoid any damage being caused to pavements, kerbs or verges when lorries visit the site or when heavy plant is gaining access to the site.

Please note that if any damage is caused, the cost of any repairs carried out by us, may be charged to you.

Public relations

Experience shows that the maintenance of good public relations with your neighbours is particularly effective at minimising problems, especially where the project is large or lengthy or where there are very intrusive short term operations.

A good public relations service might include a letter delivered to your neighbours detailing the works and giving the name and telephone number of the site agent.

Other measures would include warning your neighbours of abnormal activities such as plant movement to and from the site and dealing promptly with any complaints received on site.