'It's a tinder box' say campaigners of Fairview Homes housing blocks
- Credit: Lucie Gutfreund
Cladding campaigners held a protest in Park Royal urging a housing association not to put spiralling repair costs on residents.
The protest at Regency Heights, a Fairview New Homes development in Park Royal, was attended residents living in housing blocks.
Also present was Labour's Barry Gardiner MP and Cllr Anton Georgiou, Brent's sole Liberal Democrat representative.
Campaigners said Fairview refuses to commit to remediating unsafe homes at their cost and that leaseholders are trapped and awaiting life-changing bills for remediation that could push many into bankruptcy.
Andrey Zam lives in Colindale Fairview Edition, a development with more than 1,000 flats affected by the cladding and building safety crisis.
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"In our building we have flammable cladding, flammable insultation, we've got combustible materials, timber used in the construction of balconies and missing cavity barriers, which would stop a fire spreading through the walls," he said.
"If you take that one thing alone, that that puts them in breach of regulations effective at the time of construction.
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"It's a tinder box and we're all worried and the prospect of being hooked with 40-70,000 pounds to fix all that – we don't know."
Fairview said it was aware of the protest and "working with the relevant parties" but that all homes within the Regency Heights development are "all provided with a compliant EWS1 form" which allows leaseholders to sell their homes.
Andray slammed this saying that his building got a B2 rating, "the worst". "
"It means we can't sell our homes, we can't do anything, we're trapped," he said.
Lucie Gutfreund, campaigner for End Our Cladding Scandal and Kilburn resident, who was at the protest, said: "The government’s dealing with the cladding and building safety crisis has been shambolic.
"Various housing ministers and the prime minister have said at least 17 times since Grenfell that leaseholders should not be made responsible for the mistakes of developers, yet they continue to put the burden of remediation bills and inflated interim safety measures costs on innocent leaseholders who simply cannot afford to pay costs running up to £100,000 per flat.
"The mental health impact of living in unsafe buildings and dealing with this crisis for years, with no end in sight, is breaking leaseholders’ back."
Mr Gardiner said: "This protest is not just about cladding.
"It is a failure of government to protect residents who bought their homes in good faith and now find themselves trapped in unsafe properties.
"It is about cutting corners in the construction industry that leaves homes with proper fire stopping or protection, and leaves residents with bills for thousands of pounds.
"It is about the government's reckless privatisation of building control services who want the next job from big developers and so turn a blind eye on this one."
He said the government should insist the work is done, adding: "They should levy a windfall tax on the construction industry to pay for it.
"Ministers need to stop the handwriting and start putting real pressure on the crooks who build these unsafe homes in the first place."
Cllr Georgiou said the government has "turned its back on innocent people who have done nothing wrong but aspire to get on the housing ladder, many using government-backed first time buyer schemes".
He added: "Instead of adopting the ‘polluter pays’ principle, the government expects homeowners to pay for developers’ shoddy work and oversights by regulators. This is not acceptable."
Fairview has not yet confirmed whether it would pay remediation costs to leaseholders.
A spokesperson added: "We do not underestimate the challenges that the Colindale leaseholders are facing. While this is a complex issue impacting the wider industry, we are working through with the relevant parties.”
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has been contacted for comment.