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Project manger Paul Haines said: We were programming our works based on a 12-hour day, and that is very critical.

Our output will now be limited and this ruling makes things difficult for us. May 1997 might sound a long way off, but things soon get tight.

Any legal action by residents will be a blow to the projects image. Residents spokeswoman Ann Elvin said: The stress on tenants caused by all this has been enormous.

Our lives have been made hell by all the work on our doorsteps. The estate is overrun with mice, people have sewage pumping up in their gardens and there are lorries and diggers flying around all over the place.