South Kilburn housing block estimated to cost £18.5m to remediate
- Credit: Google
South Kilburn blocks have been so badly built for Brent Council that costs to repair it exceeds the original purchase cost.
Brent Council's community and wellbeing scrutiny committee is holding an "emergency meeting" tomorrow (October 7) to tease out proposed financial arrangements - with fears many of it could fall to the tax payer.
A report by Ridge found blocks within Granville New Homes (GNH) "suffer from poor quality design, construction and workmanship going back to the original construction".
The residential development comprising blocks in Granville Road, Princess Road and Canterbury Road completed in 2009 was bought for £17.1m and estimated costs to repair it are estimated at £18.5m.
Pete Firmin, chair of a residents' association in South Kilburn, said: "Unfortunately, this shows yet again what many of us have been saying for a long time - and Brent Council vehemently denies - that much of the new building in South Kilburn is sub-standard.
"The council has known for some time that there is a problem with Granville New Homes, but this is only now becoming public."
Dionne George, moved into the estate in Canterbury Road in 2009 and has had "problems for near enough 10 years".
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She said she had been appealing for the council to fix a leak in her one-bedroom flat which is now damaging her balcony. The council put up scaffolding twice in the last five years, she said, but took it down again.
"It's very depressing for me," she added.
GNH was developed by Brent Council and Higgins.
In 2007, the council selected Hyde Housing as their preferred partner to the properties but the housing group did not find the scheme viable, according to the council's cabinet report.
The council's arm’s length management organisation (ALMO), Brent Housing Partnership (BHP) purchased Granville New Homes, through a loan from the council, for £17.1m in 2009.
BHP collapsed in 2016 and a new company First Wave Housing (FWH), was established in 2017 to take over the management of their 329 properties, including Granville New Homes.
A report by Ridge commissioned by FWH to investigate water penetration, cladding, fire safety and window issues at GNH came back with recommendations that works be carried out at the blocks to remediate these issues.
The report states: "In summary, the investigations determined that the blocks suffer from poor quality design, construction and workmanship going back to the original construction."
However the cost is so high, the council says the remediation plans are "unviable".
Of FWH’s 326 properties, 110 are located at Granville New Homes. These 110 properties comprise of 84 social rented properties, 25 intermediate rented properties, and one leaseholder.
Different rescue packages in the council's report cites FWH, of which Brent is guarantor, i4B, Brent Council's own housing company, which rents properties at more affordable rates, and Brent Council's Housing Revenue Account.
A Cabinet meeting on Monday is due to rubber stamp "best" options.
A council spokesperson did not say how much of any costs would fall to the taxpayer but said: “We are working to address issues at Granville New Homes as quickly as possible.
"Work is also underway to identify what can be done to tackle any underlying problems.
"It is clear that a long term solution is needed to give residents confidence for the future.
"Next week, the council’s cabinet will be asked to take a decision to consult residents on a long-term plan.
"Our commitment to residents is to resolve things in a way which delivers value for money whilst minimising disruption.”