A section of Higgins Partnership's Granville New Homes
I returned to South Kilburn last week in order to update Wembley Matters on the progress of this massive development.
Granville New Homes are not called that by its residents, who just use their addresses, but the occupants have found themselves in a very fraught situation. Brent Council have so far offered no option for residents be decanted elsewhere when the £18.5m remediation works start. Even if they wanted to be decanted it is unclear whether any spare capacity is available.
There is the possiblity that a much needed Tenants and Residents Association will be formed to represent their interests and one of its main tasks should be to ask Brent Council to finance independent legal advice for them.
Ironically, Higgins Partnership who built the defective homes, were chosen by Catalyst Housing to remediate defects in Merle Court (built as a 2012 partnership between Wilmott Dixon, Catalyst and Brent Council) just around the corner. Problems were so bad that Catalyst tenants were told that they would be rehoused. LINK I am currently seeking clarification from Catalyst whether this in fact happened. It certainly doesn't look fit to live in at present.
Scaffolding around Merle Court
Not far away Higgins pop up again at the Chippenham Gardens development (where potential flooding has been highlighted by David Walton HERE)
Higgins' Chippenham Gardens build
Lastly as far as Higgins goes (well probably not!) but on the other side of the borough, Brent Council chose them for a £22m contract to build homes and a retail unit on the Hillside/Milton Avenue site in Stonebridge. This is Brent Council and Higgins celebrating the start of the project just under a year ago.
It is no wonder that Cllr Southwood, rather anxiously, sought assurances at this week's Brent Cabinet meeting on the quality of build at the Alperton Bus Garage development where the Council are purchasing the leasehold on 155 housing units.
On to another housing association, L&Q Homes, where their Bourne Place has been a disaster area, highlighted often by campaigners on social media. This 2013 build was a partnership between L&Q and Brent Council and is beset with cladding and heating problems. When the defects emerged Brent Council and L&Q clashed over who was responsible ,with the leaseholders caught in the middle. LINK
The PR plug in the Evening Standard refers to a 'once notorious estate' - it is now becoming notorious for housing scandals!
The contrast between what I found on the ground and the image above could not be more stark:
Bourne Place - temporary heating pipes snake across the ground and above the ground
Temporary heating centre
A resident of Bourne Place told me:
Our entire system failed due to both plant room issues and burst pipes underground. So L&Q had to hire the temporary heating centre placed in the garden and build temporary pipes into buildings. It has been like this since February. The first stage was to fix the plant room, our own boilers and pump. I believe this is now completed. The temporary centre will be removed and pipes will need to be adjusted to lead from our plant room into the buildings. The last stage will be to dig out the grounds and replace all underground pipes to connect all 3 buildings again to the repaired plant room via underground pipes. Then these temporary pipes will be removed. It's still long way from completion due to all sorts of delays, some to do with customs and delivery issues from Europe.
South Kilburn residents have had to resign themselves to several decades of building works but rely on the 'Considerate Builders' to actually mean what they say.
The building of the HS2 vent next to flats and a primary school was opposed by residents but went ahead with the support of Brent Council who want to build on the initial site next to Queens Park station. A resident told me about being awoken by HS2 works at 4am in the morning and noise at other unsocial hours.
More disruption is promised by HS2's rather belated investigation of the drainage system at the site - perhaps recognition of potential flood dangers. The HS2 track will run beneath the South Kilburn estate...
HS2 Works Entrance
It is perhaps not surprising that some residents are now looking with an element of nostalgia at the blocks waiting to be demolished.
The South Kilburn Skyline