Son ‘trapped’ in Greenwich building which failed fire risk test

BY CALUM FRASER
calum@slpmedia.co.uk

A mother says she feels “utterly powerless” as her son is “trapped” in a building covered in flammable cladding.

Susan Davies’s son is unable to sell his flat in Greenwich’s Babbage Point development as cladding on the top two floors of the building failed a fire safety test set-up after the Grenfell disaster.

A waking watch is in place to alert residents if the cladding catches fire.

Ms Davies said: “I feel completely and utterly powerless. The anxiety of knowing my son is living in a block that needs a waking watch each and every night because it is not safe is terrible.”

Mrs Davies and her son, whose name the Mercury has agreed to withhold following a personal request, bought the flat through the Help to Buy scheme in 2016 with housing association Family Mosaic.

They started looking to sell the flat in March last year but say banks are not willing to give a mortgage to potential buyers because it is unclear whether leaseholders will be liable for the cost of removing the cladding.

She said: “It is an absolute mess. The intention was to put young people into housing. But it’s backfired. They’re trapped now. It’s a dire situation.

“It’s taken nearly 12 months of enormous effort, emotion, anxiety, time and trouble and they still don’t know what the path forward is.”

Mrs Davies added: “It’s been a real battle to get any information.

“An awful lot of people in the building don’t know about it. They don’t realise that they cannot sell their flats at the moment, they can’t move and they are potentially going to be landed with a very big bill that they can’t afford.

“It’s a huge situation and everyone seems to be passing the buck.

“We feel isolated, we’re one little person going up against these large companies.”

Mrs Davies received a letter from the London Fire Brigade’s director of operations Tom George, which said: “The picture of building ownership, management, responsibilities and tenure [at Babbage] is complicated and disputes over roles has had an impact on the speed with which this issue is being dealt with. We hope the Dame Judith Hackitt review will point to recommendations to simplify this matter.”

Dame Judith’s review, which is assessing the current building and fire safety regulations and related compliance and enforcement issues, will be published later this spring.

A spokeswoman for Durkan, Glengarry Estate and London Block Management said: “The residents have been kept fully up-to-date on this matter. We have written to them, and in some instances been in direct contact with them, over many months. We will continue to keep them fully informed.

“Safety is our priority and we’re working with London Fire Brigade to ensure there is no compromise in this respect.

“All of the recommendations we’ve received so far have been implemented and we are currently reviewing the cladding system with appropriate industry specialists to determine the next course of action. We will continue to ensure safety is maintained.”

Babbage Point is 300m down the road from New Capital Quay, which is one of the largest buildings in the UK to be found with Grenfell-style cladding.

A spokesman for the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “As ministers have been clear, we want to see private sector landlords follow the lead of the social sector and not pass on the costs of essential cladding replacement to leaseholders.

“We are keeping the situation under review.”

 

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