Cladding calamity

Hale Village residents face financial ruin if costs for cladding removal aren’t covered

Hale Village homes during construction Credit: Stephen Furner

By Luchia Robinson

Leasehold residents at Hale Village are demanding funds be sought to cover the cost of remedial work to their homes in the Pavilions development.

The Pavilions Steering Group, acting on behalf of affected leaseholders on the 420-home development, seek protection from having to pay for urgent works as the result of non-compliant building materials used during construction.

The issue of unsafe cladding materials was brought to public attention following the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017.

Six housing blocks in the Pavilions development are affected, and works include removing combustible materials used in the balconies of four of the blocks.

The remediations at the Hale Village homes are estimated to be an average of £25,000 per property, and this is subject to further increases. The leaseholders say, to date, they have had to pay for fire alarm installation costing £1,200, buildings insurance costing £1,500 and they are awaiting the bill for a fire marshal patrol Waking Watch which was put in place at the development.

Lawrence*, a resident living in Lapwing Heights said: “Originally, we found out that we couldn’t sell our flat because it transpired that it failed the updated government regulations that came in after a review of the Grenfell Tower.

“Ultimately, we want someone to pay for the works because we bought these flats in good faith from Bellway, the developer. We don’t think that we should be paying for the government rule change as a result of builders using cheaper materials which have then been found as combustible and therefore now non-compliant with regulations.”

Tottenham MP David Lammy has been supportive of the residents’ demand of getting Bellway to take accountability, commit to rectifying the safety issues, and to stop ‘continuing to profit at the expense of the safety and financial security of those who buy their homes.’

Mr Lammy tweeted: ‘Three years after 72 died in Grenfell Tower, there are more than 1,000 residents living in Bellway Homes flats in Tottenham covered with combustible cladding. Bellway made £1billion in profit in the past two years. It’s time for the developer to cough up and sort this problem out.’

Raising the concerns in parliament last November, he said that Bellway had shown a “complete disregard for my constituents living in these buildings with combustible cladding.”

The government announced a £1billion budget in March 2020 to support the removal and replacement of unsafe non-ACM (Aluminium Composite Material) cladding systems on residential buildings 18 metres or over throughout 2020 and 2021, of which there are estimated to be 1,700 nationwide.

This Building Safety Fund is to ensure that leaseholders are protected from costs where building owners, managing agents or freeholders are not meeting the costs themselves.

The Pavilions Steering Group, however, state that Bellway have not been transparent in making the materials used in the homes clear to them. As a result, they say that they are ‘unable to fully confirm the extent of the remedial works required to make the development safe, and as such are unable to proceed with any avenue to undertake the works.’ This, they say is blocking them from receiving funds from the government.

The Reverend Andrew Williams at St Francis at the Engine Room, Hale Village, has seen the impact the safety concerns are having on the residents’ mental health, he said: “Some of the people here, in light of Covid-19 and losing jobs or working from home, have been trapped in buildings that are unsafe, and simply can’t get out.

“They can’t afford to get a mortgage on any of the properties, so they can’t move out, the only option is to try and rent their properties to somebody, but that’s difficult as well because the buildings are currently ranked as unsafe to visit, and that doesn’t begin to cover the costs they’re already facing. Insurance has increased tenfold and with payments for installation and extra fire alarms throughout the buildings and suchlike – it really is a desperate situation for lots of residents here.”

A spokesperson for Pinnacle Group, the managing agent of the Hale Village development said: “We have worked to support our residents throughout this challenging time. As the managing agent for these properties, Pinnacle has worked with the freeholders and developers to communicate the results of building surveys through face-to-face meetings along with more regular updates.

“Following the completion of the inspections in 2020, Pinnacle Group have participated in a series of leaseholder working groups that focused on supporting residents to understand the options for remediation on their properties and engaging with the freeholder and developer around the next steps. We have also worked with the stakeholders involved with the Hale Village development to support an application to the government’s Building Safety Fund to fund the remediation work.”

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee recommends that the government remediates all residential buildings with ACM cladding defects by December. It recommends that all other fire hazards, including unsafe non-ACM cladding be fixed before the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2022.

Bellway say that they are ‘working with the freeholder, managing agent and the NHBC (National House Building Council) to develop a remediation plan for Hale Village, and will communicate directly with the residents as the plans progress.’

They did not state their position on whether they would be accepting any costs to ensure the completion of the works.

*Name changed to ensure privacy.

News for local communities is essential. Tottenham Community Press needs your support to keep making it. Please support us by signing up as a member.