The independent London newspaper

Cracks in Highbury Quadrant homes: Can they fix it?

Town Hall urged to act as residents raise alarm over damage appearing in walls

26 April, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Cllr Caroline Russell at Highbury Quadrant: ‘Residents are fed-up with slow or no responses’

HIGHBURY Quadrant residents have accused the Town Hall of not listening to their requests to properly fix the reasons behind cracks appearing in their homes.

Fifteen residents have so far signed a letter to housing chief councillor Diarmaid Ward calling for him to step in and tackle what is causing the damage, believed to be because of the ground sinking.

Residents also struggle to close windows and doors at certain times of the year, according to locals in the specific block.

A second-floor resident, who wished not to be named, said: “I don’t know what the latest technology is to sort the issue but the council needs to take a long-term view to solve it.

“The council could go to residents and say, ‘we acknowledge there’s a problem in the building, we acknowledge there is a root cause in the building and we want to work with you to address the root cause’. There are so many things that are unclear.”

Emma Watts, who has lived in a ground-floor flat for two years, said: “I’ve had issues with doors not closing properly, always in the autumn and spring.

“There are hairline cracks in our new bathroom tiles. I can live with it for now but I’m hoping it won’t get any worse.”

The other side of the block was underpinned more than a decade ago and the building was “cut” several years ago to create movement joints in a bid to lessen damage.

A surveyor’s report from 2015 said a “long-term structural solution” would be to underpin the remaining block, similar to that carried out on the smaller blocks, but admitted it would be expensive.

The resident said he did not want any cyclical works – routine major works by the council – to start on the block this year until the cause of the issue is resolved.

Leaseholders are concerned they may have to pay for the repairs when, in fact, the damage could come under the insurance claims because of subsidence.

Caroline Russell, the Green Party councillor for Highbury East, said: “Residents are fed-up with slow or no responses, feeling unlistened to, and glacial progress on repairs and action to tackle serious issues like ­subsidence and damp mouldy homes.”

A Town Hall spokeswoman said: “We are sorry to hear that some residents of Highbury Quadrant are concerned about their building, and that communication has been unclear. We are currently working with our insurers to resolve the situation. We will update residents by mail soon with details of the planned approach, and we invite any residents with concerns to contact the council.”

Cllr Ward, said: “We take our responsibilities to maintain council homes extremely seriously, which is why we have invested £135million in repairs over the last four years.

“I am committed to working with the residents of the Highbury Quadrant estate to help resolve the issues they are concerned about, as well as ensuring the important cyclical works are delivered.”

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