People are living with ‘a huge amount of stress’ by unsafe cladding problem in Eastbourne

People in Eastbourne living with unsafe cladding say it would be a ‘scandal’ if they are forced to pay out thousands of pounds to replace it.

Friday, 8th January 2021, 1:15 pm
Updated Monday, 11th January 2021, 9:14 am

They say they are in ‘a very stressful situation’ due to the ongoing debate around who is to pay for the repairs.

In Eastbourne around 40 buildings including several in Sovereign Harbour have the cladding.

In 2017 Grenfell Tower in London went up in flames killing 72 people. The public inquiry into the fire found that aluminium composite material panels were the main cause of the fire and the rate in which it was able to spread throughout the building.

Photo by Robert Stanborough SUS-210801-102325001

Since then, £1.6 billion has been put aside by the government to help fund repairs.

The Lib Dem spokesperson for Sovereign ward, Kathy Ballard, has been contacted by a number of residents about the problem of living with the cladding.

The issue comes in the expectation that leaseholders should pay the bills to have the cladding removed - something that costs thousands of pounds to do.

As a result, it is estimated 3.6 million people nationwide are trapped in potentially unsellable housing because without the work being done, the property cannot be re-mortgaged.

Robert Stanborough SUS-210801-103535001

The MP for Eastbourne Caroline Ansell has recently put her name to a letter calling for more financial support for leaseholders from the government in making these repairs.

Robert Stanborough is a voluntary director of Victoria Quay Management Co Ltd and a resident of the development in Sovereign Harbour. The management group is responsible for 147 apartments and 28 town houses on this site.

The problem was raised when leaseholders were coming forward saying they had been told their flats were un-mortgageable and worth nothing.

Robert said the site consists of 12 blocks of flats, 10 of which are without metal cladding underneath each balcony, which would protect them from fire transfer from below, and as a result these 10 blocks could potentially burn upwards due to the lack of metal cladding.

He said, “We then undertook potential investigations regarding replacement of the wooden decking boards with metal ones. The cost varied from £1500- £2500 per apartment, with an overall cost for the 10 blocks being around £150,000.

“We appear to be one of the lucky ones though, given that adjacent developments on North Harbour are known to have major exterior wall cladding and undercroft parking area cladding issues, which will cost hundreds of thousands to resolve.

“We are sure that their leaseholders like ours, feel that to expect them to pick up the cost of rectifying remedial works is simply not an option.”

Robert said these problems are causing ‘a huge amount of stress’ to leaseholders.

He said, “This whole situation requires urgent national clarification and government subsidy to alleviate the anxiety being experienced by thousands nationwide.”

Caroline Streatfield is another resident and said, “I’m pleased that this unjust situation is finally getting some coverage.

“I feel very annoyed at having to live in a building which could be a potential fire trap. We only purchased the flat 14 months ago and now it would have a zero valuation due to no fault of our own.

“Trying to pass the costs onto leaseholders is a scandal, while the building developers still make billions in profit leaving this mess behind them.

“I would like the government to firstly acknowledge what a stressful situation they are putting millions of people in.”

Caroline said the money set aside by the government ‘won’t even touch the sides’ of the problem.

She said, “I’m pleased that Caroline Ansell has at last put her name to some form of objection. I really don’t know how the government expect leaseholders paying will resolve this issue.

“Many can’t pay and will be forced to declare bankruptcy, the buildings will still not be fixed and the effect on the housing market will continue for many years to come.”