The affected properties
The Housing Association, Notting Hill Genesis, is to evacuate a six-block development in Hounslow. University of West London students from the student accommodation on the site will be transferred to CRM's Grand Felda House in Empire Way. UWL told the students that the new accommodation was of higher quality and more modern than their present housing. A shuttle bus will run from Wembley to the UWL campus. LINK
Grand Felda House
Asked about arrangements for students isolating due to Covid the university said:
Notting Hill Genesis are working with a range of specialist professionals to ensure that all guidelines relating to Covid-19 are followed. As a University, UWL is ensuring that comprehensive risk assessments are carried out by Notting Hill Genesis prior to any removals being undertaken.
UWL provided support at a number of Microsoft Teams meetings. LINK
However, Construction News today (October 20th) reported student uncertainty and anxiety over the arrangements for quarantined students. LINK
The news comes on top of widespread concerns over cladding and the plight of people in leasehold and shared ownership properties who are unable to move because they cannot acquire the necessary fire safety certificate. There are six buildings in the affected development, one of which is 17 storeys high.
This is today's press statement:
Notting Hill Genesis, one of London’s largest housing associations,
is to undertake a comprehensive safety review across a six-block
residential development in London following expert advice that the
construction of the buildings may be putting residents at risk.
Following expert advice provided by consultants employed by Notting Hill Genesis, all residents living in Paragon – about 1,000 people in total – will be asked to leave immediately in order to protect their health and safety while further investigative work is undertaken.
Paragon is a development of six blocks containing a total of 1,059 homes in Brentford, Hounslow. It was developed by Berkeley First, part of The Berkeley Group plc. The estate was owned initially by the former Presentation Housing Association, which became part of Notting Hill Housing – now Notting Hill Genesis – in 2009.
Notting Hill Genesis said that it would ensure that all residents living in the Paragon Estate were able to access safe alternative accommodation this week. It will also work with residents to find a longer-term solution to their housing needs where necessary.
The further investigations will establish the full extent of the structural and fire safety issues that have been uncovered at the development and identify next steps.
Notting Hill Housing group, which became part of Notting Hill Genesis group in 2018, acquired Paragon in 2009.
Earlier building performance issues, together with fire safety issues related to the cladding and the subsequent new Government guidance since the fire at Grenfell Tower, triggered a series of safety checks at Paragon, undertaken by technical consultants, which have each revealed further problems with this development.
Notting Hill Genesis has taken action to address these risks as they have arisen, including establishing waking watches and temporary alarms, and introducing simultaneous evacuation procedures, but the latest advice has prompted the group to act in order to protect its residents.
Kate Davies, group chief executive of Notting Hill Genesis, said:
“First, I want to say how sorry we are to residents that we have had to take this action and disrupt their lives. But, as a not-for-profit housing association, our priority is to provide safe, affordable housing. We always ensure the wellbeing of our residents, so while we are incredibly disappointed to have to make this decision, we believe that we have no choice but to ask people to leave their homes on the Paragon estate.
“I understand that Paragon residents may feel angry or alarmed by this news, as they have every right to be. This is a very distressing time and we are genuinely sorry for the huge amount of disruption and uncertainty that this situation will cause.
“This is a complex situation and we don’t yet have all the answers. We are working to uncover the full extent of the issues at Paragon so that we can provide residents with clarity about timescales, next steps and options as quickly as possible.
“We are doing all we can to support people who live in Paragon through this difficult situation. We have identified safe accommodation for everyone to move into this week and are providing financial as well as mental health and wellbeing support to help them do that. We are also giving everyone a dedicated caseworker to discuss their specific needs both now and for the longer-term where necessary.”
There is no suggestion that any other buildings in the Notting Hill Genesis portfolio will require a similar approach to the one being taken at Paragon. Buildings are being investigated and prioritised based on factors such as height, external materials used and evacuation procedure, and residents informed if further investigation or remedial work is required. Where necessary, and in consultation with fire safety assessors, interim safety measures such as simultaneous evacuation procedures, supported by 24-hour patrols and temporary alarms are in place.
Paragon is a scheme that was developed for Presentation Housing Association Limited and Touareg Trust, which was originally a subsidiary of Presentation Housing, by Berkeley First Limited. Presentation transferred its engagements to Notting Hill Housing Trust in 2009. Paragon comprises eight blocks that reached practical completion 2006. The development comprises six blocks of residential and student accommodation, plus two commercial buildings that are not owned by Notting Hill Genesis group.
The six blocks consist of the following:
• Block A - a five-storey building consisting of 41 units of intermediate market rent.
• Block B – three interconnected buildings of four, five and nine storeys with 107 shared ownership leasehold units and 72 intermediate rent.
• Blocks C, D, E and F - 17, 12, 12 and five-storeys respectively, hold a combined 839 units of student accommodation which is occupied by students nominated by the University of West London.
The freeholds of Blocks C through F are owned by Touareg Trust, which is a registered charity and is a subsidiary of Notting Hill Genesis.
Blocks A and B are owned by Notting Hill Genesis. Notting Hill Home Ownership Limited, a not-for-profit subsidiary of Notting Hill Genesis, holds a long leasehold interest at Block B where the shared ownership homes are located.