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Thamesmead flat owners face £13 million bill to fix cladding problem

Courtesy Google

Owners at a block of flats in Thamesmead are facing a £13 million charge to make flammable cladding safe.

Royal Artillery Quay was built in 2003 by Barratt Homes and features a series of towers alongside the Thames. A Section 20 notice was recently issued which places costs onto owners to rectify issues.

Owners are already paying high annual service charges – around £6,000 – for wardens to patrol for any fires that break out.

One resident, Stephen Day, stated: “As a result, myself and other residents are living with the very real threat of having to pay more than £35,000 each to fix our buildings. We simply do not have this sort of money”.

Barratt Homes

Barratt Homes have started to engage in recent days though residents are not convinced. Barratt stated:

“Hi, we appreciate this is a stressful situation for you all so we just wanted to reiterate that our offer of financial support remains in place and has never been withheld. You should keep talking to your managing agent, but we hope this helps reassure you in the meantime.”

In response residents stated that Barrett had agreed to cover all £1.6 million compartmentation costs but are now offering just £585,000.

Barratt have agreed to cover costs on some other sites, where studies on cladding  also revealed significant structural flaws. A block in Croydon was found to have “significant issues relating to the design of the building’s reinforced concrete frame, requiring extensive remedial work”.

There is no indication of that in Thamesmead.

The company’s results for 2019 showed a profit of £423m. It has called for more taxpayer support via Help to Buy which has substantially boosted margins and profits for developers.

18 Comments

  1. Roy

    Seems a bit obvious…if only to me…that both builders and local council should be taking responsibility as no flat owner had any say in the building materials nor structure during buulding and cladding…so why should they be held responsibility. As the flats are Leasehold…surely the Freeholder has insurance to cover these issues….I had a flat in Lewisham which had structural issues and the council paid for the complete refurbishment. Its a question of responsibility. If the flat owners could refuse to the installation of the cladding, then they should pay…if not then whoever made the decisions,should pay

  2. Roy

    In the olden days…with Planning Laws…all buildings were overseen by the local council and all structures were approved by the local Planning Dept and thus any issues were hopefully corrected before completion. Now it seems no one takes responsibility for anything…which includes the Fire Brigade…a la Grenville and particularly builders

  3. CDT

    I hope this is sending a clear message to developers to stop using cladding on all new developments. Local Authorities should refuse all new applications where cladding is mentioned.

    I hope the residents can get some financial help to rectify the cladding issue as £ 35,000 is a lot of money for residents to find on top of their mortgage and service charge payments.

    What a worry that residents could well do with out.

  4. Roy

    Whoever manufactured the cladding…must have provided Data Sheets re construction…limitations…installation…to anyone who requested them…including the Fire Brigade…who…would be more than interested in doing Tests on Fire hazards

  5. CDT

    I agree with you 100% Roy.

  6. Sim

    If we weren’t facing the devastating Covid-19 crisis and Brexit, I’m sure this cladding issue would be getting a lot more coverage. There are currently over half a million leaseholders trapped in flats with either dangerous cladding, or cladding that needs to be assessed before they can be declared safe. That means families are unable to move, re-mortgage or just feel safe in their own homes. I’ve heard figures of £14million to repair some of the blocks in Royal Arsenal, which could potentially cost leaseholders £6k a month in increased service charges. These figures are ludicrous!

    I personally think the Government is refusing to take a more prominent role partly because of the cost, but also because they know once these leaseholders are able to sell they’ll be a increase in supply OF properties for sale, which could drive down national prices, which they’re still trying to keep artificially high with their HTB, stamp duty holiday and constant articles on how ‘prices keep rising’ (even though they’re not if we actually check rightmove). The whole housing market is a trap!!!!

    • Roy

      I don’t see it as a Govt issue only in so far they are responsible for Planning Laws which now seem to have disappeared.
      So it looks like you can build anything…no matter how unsafe…and neither the Fire Brigade..Local Council…Builders….will be taking responsibility….a recipe for disaster….
      So maybe you are right……
      Greville…was a loxal council owned and run….Planning Dept agreed with and enforced everything…but have run away when it came to responsibility…so something wrong there

  7. Sim

    If we weren’t facing the devastating Covid-19 crisis and Brexit, I’m sure this cladding issue would be getting a lot more coverage. There are currently over half a million leaseholders trapped in flats with either dangerous cladding, or cladding that needs to be assessed before they can be declared safe. That means families are unable to move, re-mortgage or just feel safe in their own homes. I’ve heard figures of £14million to repair some of the blocks in Royal Arsenal, which could potentially cost leaseholders £6k a month in increased service charges. These figures are ludicrous!

    I personally think the Government is refusing to take a more prominent role partly because of the cost, but also because they know once these leaseholders are able to sell they’ll be a increase in supply OF properties for sale, which could drive down national prices, which they’re still trying to keep artificially high with their HTB, stamp duty holiday and constant articles on how ‘prices keep rising’ (even though they’re not if we actually check rightmove). The whole housing market is a trap!!!!!!

  8. Goatz

    As a resident in one of these blocks, I would say that it would make more sense to demolish and rebuild. The construction of these buildings is extremely poor. I am certain that once the cladding is off even more problems will be identified in the construction.

  9. The developers should pay. It is they who used these dangerous materials and caused the problem. Personally, I would like to see cost extracted from the developers but doubtless it would be deemed unlawful.

    As we have seen, governments of all stripes have shown no interest in regulating the construction industry and the Tories, in particular, have torn away safeguards and oversight and are now proposing an extension of permitted development.

  10. Chris L

    The problem is that correct materials can be specified but then procurement people add two words “or similar” in an effort to save money.

    Cladding can be perfectly safe if installed correctly with fire breaks and the gaps filled with fire retardant material.

    • The use of cladding per se is not in question. It is the suitability and proper application, including void spaces, that needs careful handling. Any change in material or sub-par installation can lead to deaths, as in the multiple failures of the Grenfell Tower project.

  11. Graham

    Developers cut cost and switch to using cheaper materials.

    The developers should pay to make the buildings safe.

  12. Exit

    There needs to be buildings standards agency like how the foods standard agency was formed after it was proven the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food failed to it’s job. But that won’t happen under this government

  13. Dave

    I was walking by the apartments in Greenwich next to Deptford Creek earlier this week. Work has started on replacing the cladding on several buildings. I was amazed at the amount of void space between the external cladding and the internal insulation where they had started removing some of the panels. No wonder there was a chimney effect on the Grenfell fire.

    Service charges on all these new builds are already ludicrously without any additional costs like fire wardens.

    The big builders have made huge profits in recent years on the back of Government schemes to keep the property market artificially high. They have a moral duty to fund all this work. together with the freeholders.

  14. Jack

    This should be and is a developer / freeholder issue – it’s not a council issue – planning does not cover these issues and building control was never designed to oversee a development to the extent that they quality control every aspect of a development. This is why developers sign up to schemes such as NHCB.

    Local authorities don’t have the money to fix the issues, it has to be a government fix with monies recovered in future.

    Knowing these blocks, they aren’t the best in terms of design and build. But I really doubt they’ll be demolished and rebuilt anytime soon, since they are already built at a high density and there is no money to be made…

    Not a fan of Berkley homes but at least the Royal Arsenal element of the area is a lot better in terms of design, build and general amenity.

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