News in London and beyond


London development of 1,000 homes built in 2006 may be demolished

Courtesy Google

News is out today that a Hounslow development built in 2006 has been rendered so unsafe that all residents will be forced to move out with demolition possible.

Berkeley First – part of the Berkeley group – built the development alongside modular manufacturer Caledonian Building Systems. The entire development is now managed and owned by other organisations including Housing Association Notting Hill Genesis.

Berkeley promotional claim

Berkeley and Caledonian have worked together on modular homes in Kidbrooke.

Berkeley First are predominantly, but not solely, involved in student accommodation across London and the UK. They have also built blocks for the University of Greenwich in Gillingham though to what extent modular buildings were used at other sites is not clear. It does also raise questions about quality control regardless of modular methods.

It’s not just external cladding at fault here but a “multitude” of problems across buildings. Click here to see an article from 2006 detailing the building process.

Built 2006. Badly maintained externally. Now possible demolished

The article quotes “Matthew Biddle, managing director of Berkeley First”, who states:

“We had a contract that required the accommodation quickly.

So we developed a construction method that would allow us to build faster than usual. Because of the constrained site, it made sense to build off site.”

Berkeley First is part of overall Berkeley group

While modular construction is believed to play a role in Hounslow, it’s unclear to what degree. Modular construction has become increasing popular for new homes, with developments in places such as Lewisham incorporating the technique.

The Hounslow block has 688 student rooms, 105 shared ownership and 65 intermediate rent homes.

Residents now face moving out to other areas including hotels, breaking up local bonds and support networks with a consequent impact as 1000 homes are used for rehousing, reducing needed stock in the local area. Fewer homes for private renters and social homes are likely to result. The repercussions will be felt widely.






  1. “We had a contract that required the accommodation quickly.

    So we developed a construction method that would allow us to build faster than usual. Because of the constrained site, it made sense to build off site.”

    Translate to ‘we have no experience in modular homes but ‘how hard can it be’. The post-war prefabs lasted over 50 years and that those new builds lasted barely 15 years is a damning indictment on some areas of the construction industry.

  2. Lord Lew Can

    The Building Fire Safety Scandal is rapidly gathering pace and will be an eye opener. It directly affects millions of people, will cost billions to fix, and will lead to mass bankruptcies of leaseholders.

    The government had taken a ‘head in the sand’ approach to solving this national crisis. Until today when they decided the leaseholders will have to pay what is affordable for these defects.

    Meanwhile buck passing is something all involved in the creation of these buildings have become expert in. That includes the developers, the construction companies, the freeholders, the land owners, the local authorities who signed off the buildings as safe, the fire brigades who checked them annually, the surveyors who checked they were safe for mortgage purposes, the property management companies who act in the interests of the freeholder.

  3. honeyb

    So what happens to the leaseholders then, if their home is demolished?
    Will it be rebuilt at the developers expense as it should be?

    • Leaseholders come off the worst of all. They are expected to carry the can for the shortcuts that developers take. This is wrong since they did not consent to live in a structure that proves to be dangerous because someone was only thinking of the bottom line. Government needs to make sure that the victims of shoddy builds are not the ones who pay for repairs.

  4. Richard

    Looks like a vile eyesore anyway. Nothing new is beautiful. All of it sub-standard. 1960’s all over again. The quality of high-rise is appalling. Now we build worse than China and that’s saying something. Many buildings to be torn down. So much for being a developed country where this would have been unthinkable not long ago. We build like a third world banana republic now and teach new employees to replicate it.

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