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'Yule not move in by Christmas': Southern Housing Group berated - and families left stranded - in six month London Fields flats delay

PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 December 2018

Higgins is still working on Southern Housing's development in London Lanes. Picture: Mary McGonnell

Higgins is still working on Southern Housing's development in London Lanes. Picture: Mary McGonnell

Mary McGonnell

Families will be left in temporary accommodation over Christmas because builders are running half a year behind schedule completing a block of London Fields flats.

Higgins is still working on Southern Housing's development in London Lanes. Picture: Mary McGonnell Higgins is still working on Southern Housing's development in London Lanes. Picture: Mary McGonnell

Southern Housing Group has failed to give a reason for the delay to the six-storey block in London Lane, citing only “unforeseen issues” and “snagging”. They have refused to say whether contractor Higgins will be fined for the late delivery.

Those who bought shared-ownership flats are out of pocket, having had to put their belongings into storage after giving up their tenancies with a view to moving in August. The date was then put back to October, then December, then January – and now no date at all. Parents have been unable to secure school and nursery places for next year without an address.

Mary McGonnell, who is currently living out of a suitcase, told the Gazette: ““It was supposed to be my first Christmas in my new place.

“My family in Ireland have booked to come here – but I’m going to stay at a friend’s house now and they’ll be in a hotel.”

Disgruntled buyers have teamed up to demand answers from SHG. But Mary said: “There has been a total lack of care and support and they have not provided any answers or solutions. We have all lost any faith it is ever going to be finished.

“They said: ‘If you don’t like it we can give you your money back and you can give up the flat,’ and offered £1,300 compensation which doesn’t even cover storage costs. I need a date as I need to make arrangements for accommodation. Living far away from work is causing me more stress.”

Daniel Turner added: “We were pushed into exchanging in April and were told there was a waiting list if we didn’t exchange, so we sold our house in Norfolk and came to Hackney in June and have been living in temporary accommodation at great expense. Most of our furniture is in storage - another expense.

“It has affected our mental health dramatically and our son who has special needs has continued instability that affects him.

“Our landlady has decided to convert our short term flat to long term rental and this means we have to leave end of January with no home to go to - which is very distressing.”

SHG’s development director Oliver Boundy said: “Our contractors told us they plan to deliver the blocks early in 2019. We’re working with them to make sure they’re on track. We have asked them to increase the amount of labour on site to speed up the process as much as possible, and we’re currently in the snagging phase where we make our final checks before we’re able to hand over the properties.

“We understand our customers’ frustrations and concerns and again I’d like to apologise for the delays and the stress caused, and we’re doing everything we can to resolve the issue.”

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