Bridport House: Hackney Council will repair badly-built block and remove combustible insulation rather than demolish it
- Credit: Emma Bartholomew
Bridport House residents have expressed their devastation as they face the break-up of their community, as Hackney Council formally agreed to repair the poorly constructed block rather than knock it down.
Social housing tenants on the Colville Estate block opposite Hoxton Park were told last month they would have to move out within the year for "serious errors" in the building's construction to be fixed. At a cabinet meeting at the Town Hall last night they were told they would have the option to return to the existing building, as the building is not considered to be structurally unsound to the point of needing to be demolished.
Investigations have shown combustible insulation Kooltherm K12 should never have been installed in Bridport House, because it was only permissible in buildings under 18m tall.
The council has apologised for the failures, and is considering legal action against contractors Wilmott Partnership Homes.
Some residents who have had to endure a seven-year catalogue of problems - from tiles falling off the roof, wonky brickwork and falling balconies - have vowed never to return.
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One of them, Michael Jones, 70, who fainted at the last council meeting when he heard the shock news he would have to move out, said: "Now that we are being moved, I won't be returning. All I've got to say is, I don't want to be in the middle in the legal battle with the developer. I just want to get on with my life and get out. I don't think the compensation is enough, as our lives have been turned upside down.
"Also, since we had the last meeting, not one person has come over to the residents in Bridport and really said to us, 'How do you feel about this?'"
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Kevin McAndrew, treasurer of the Colville Estate tenants and residents' association, said: "I would like to express the sadness of what's gone on. We're going to lose Michael now, a key member of the estate and the community.
"What we hoped for, looking at regeneration for keeping the community together has led to the community being broken apart. It's been a complete failure for us."
Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville agreed emotional support was "maybe something [the council] should consider."
"No-one wants to be in this situation, and I can't apologise enough on the part of the council," he added.
Those moving permanently are to be offered a one-off home loss payment of £6,300, with the potential for other financial help like removal costs or compensation for lost single person discounts on council tax.
It is understood that the council has so far only set out the legal minimum for compensation, with individual packages of extra compensation tailored to meet particular need.