18th Nov, 2018

Safety risks identified at Whitefriars flats in Coventry leave residents 'worried sick'

Les Reid 27th Jul, 2017 Updated: 28th Jul, 2017

RESIDENTS of Coventry flats are concerned their homes could partially collapse after safety risks were confirmed by an investigation.

Flats at Philmont Court, in Bannerbrook Park, Tile Hill, Coventry, were not built to the safest specifications by developers Persimmon Homes, according to housing association Whitefriars, which owns the building of owner-occupied and rented flats.

Residents say they have been trying to get the ongoing issues resolved for three years.

Now Whitefriars Housing Group has written to residents following a structural engineer’s investigation into the concerns.

The letter, dated July 17, seen by the Coventry Observer, states: “The structural engineer presented his findings and confirmed that there was a weakness with the way the wall ties had originally been installed.

“Their investigation has determined that, under certain extreme circumstances, the brickwork could be at risk of failure.

“This doesn’t mean that the brickwork will collapse but does mean that there is a heightened risk of partial collapse if a section of wall experiences a large impact, such as a car hitting the building or in circumstances of extreme high winds: he has classified high winds as a one in fifty year event.”

The letter says agreement has been struck to install – as temporary measures – brickwork bracing at certain points, and protective barriers in front of parking bays, and work would start soon.

Permanent remedial works would follow, the letter claims. But it gives no further detail.

Mother Claire (we have withheld her surname to protect her identity), who lives in one four-storey block of eight flats with her four-year-old daughter Bella, said contractors set up scaffolding earlier this year. But when they examined the building they realised the problem was worst than thought and required further investigation.

She said: “I have to live here, while all these companies have a battle behind the scenes which has been going on since 2014. We as occupiers and tenants are worried sick. I have a young child living here.

“We can’t sell them now. Estate agents won’t even market our homes and we can’t insure them.” she told the Coventry Observer.

Coventry City Council opposition councillors at Coventry City Council are campaigning on the residents’ behalf.

Conservative Woodlands councillors Julia Lepoidevin and Gary Ridley met with Whitefriars in June.

They say they have made repeated attempts to arrange a meeting with Persimmon Homes, to no avail.

Coun Lepoidevin called on Persimmon Homes to ‘recognise the concerns of frightened families’.

She said: “Residents rightfully need answers. Are they safe? How has this happened? Who is responsible? Why should residents, some with young families, who aspire to own their own home, be left fearful of building safety and facing an uncertain future?”

Coun Ridley is concerned that the problems may extend to other buildings within the development and is calling upon Persimmon Homes to clarify the situation.

Coun Peter Male wants a full enquiry to determine who is at fault.

A spokesman for Persimmon Homes said: “We are aware of issues at Philmont Court and we are in close liaison with the NHBC (National House Building Council), who are leading the matter. All works are covered under residents’ Buildmark Choice warranty.”

We asked Persimmon Homes for more details, including whether all blocks in Philmont Court had the same problems, as some neighbours claimed.

A spokesman for Persimmon Homes said only: “As the NHBC is the lead on this, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”

Whitefriars say NHBC was responsible for commissioning the investigation, and for a warranty which claims were being lodged against by Whitefriars, on residents’ behalf.

A Whitefriars spokeswoman added: “We have interests in three blocks. The claim being made with NHBC relates to those blocks. We don’t know anything about the others.”

She said the three blocks comprised numbers 26 to 73.

 

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