Brent Council has disclosed the Ridge Report to Wembley Matters following a Freedom of Information Request. It shows just how bad the condition of this 'new build' was. According to the Scrutiny Minutes, this report has never been discussed with Higgins Partners who built Granville New Homes, no redress has been sought, and Higgins is working on at least three contracts in the borough worth millions.
There have been a small number of redactions for personal/identifiable information. (Click on bottom right corner for full size)
Philip Grant has read the Ridge Report, and has commented:
If I remember correctly, Scrutiny Committee were told that the Ridge Report was commissioned by First Wave Housing, and that Brent Council were not informed about its findings until after FWH had received the Report.
The Ridge Report clearly states that the client was Brent Council AND First Wave Housing. So, on whose instructions was it commissioned, and who paid for it?
The Report says that it was commissioned because Brent Council and FWH were aware of many serious problems at Granville New Homes:-
'Brent Council & First Wave Housing have noted the below issues:
Water leaks resulting in severe damp and mould within the flats.
Rotting timber windows due to water leaks and severe condensation.
Roof capping defects allowing water to penetrate into the cavity behind the cladding.
Water ponding on the flat roofs.
Inadequate falls to the communal walkways resulting in water flooding the lift shafts.
Water tracking into the flats from the service ducts in the communal areas.
Cladding failure allowing water penetration through the walls.
Inadequate fall to the balconies allowing water to penetrate the flats through the doors.
Difficulty sourcing spare parts for remedial works to the windows.'
Claims that Brent Council were not aware of the serious problems until after the Ridge Report was received in May 2021 appear to be untrue.
After all, Brent Council's housing staff had been managing the GNH properties on behalf of FWH since 2017!
Cabinet decided to "consult" with the residents about the work which needs to be carried out. Has this been done yet?
People are living in these flats which were poorly designed, with many examples of poor workmanship by the builders who constructed them, both major contributors to the problems which now have to be put right.
The report says that a year should be allowed for the design, procurement and statutory consents needed for the remediation work, which itself is then likely to take around 18 months to carry out. I hope that Brent Council will get on with the job, and make sure it is done properly this time.
There appear to be some discrepancies between the Ridge Report above, and how it was presented to Cabinet on 11 October 2021, in a report signed off by Brent's Chief Executive.
The opening paragraph of the report to Cabinet members says:
'First Wave Housing (FWH) has commissioned a report from Ridge Consultants
to investigate water penetration, cladding, fire safety and window issues at
FWH’s Granville Road, Princess Road, and Canterbury Road blocks (otherwise
known as Granville New Homes). Ridge have recommended that works be
carried out at the blocks to remediate these issues. It is estimated that the cost of works will be £18.5m. This makes the FWH business plan unviable.'
This clearly states that fire safety was investigated as part of the Ridge Report; but the report itself (see bottom of page 24 of the document in the blog above) says:
'Fire safety matters, relating to the cladding have not been commented on in this report as they are excluded from the scope. From what was seen, during the opening up of the cladding, there are a number of issues which should be further investigated by a façade specialist and fire engineer. These include possible combustible insulation and seemingly a lack of cavity barriers within the cladding system. The cladding systems should be reviewed, from a fire safety perspective, as a matter of urgency.'
Page 26 of the Ridge Report gives the budget cost estimates of the work identified as a result of this consultant's investigations:
'TOTAL COSTS by block:
Granville Road East £2,185,000
Granville Road West £2,475,000
Peel Square £4,550,000
Pilgrims Corner £4,435,000
Clearly, there is a difference between the £13.645m figure in the Ridge Report which has now been disclosed under FoI (and which was not made available to the members of the Audit or Scrutiny Committees, when they considered the problems and proposed solutions over Granville New Homes), and the £18.5m figure in the report to Cabinet.
Was there a second specialist report on the fire safety issues, with the estimated cost of that remediation making up the almost £5m difference between the two figures?
If not, what is the explanation for that difference?
And if there was a separate fire safety defects report, why was that not mentioned in the report to Cabinet, and why has that report not been disclosed to councillors, or made public?