Citiscape, the Barratts-built residential tower block on Drummond Road and Frith Road in Old Town, has become the first in Britain to be bought back by its builders in order to resolve issues around the building’s dangerous Grenfell-like aluminium composite material cladding.
But despite leaseholder organisations saying that developers have “a moral duty” to consider buying back such properties and the Housing Ombudsman urging landlords to explore similar buybacks, Citiscape’s 95 flat-owners may end up being the only ones to escape the home-owning dream that has turned into a nightmare for thousands. For Barratts, at least, say they have no plans to buy back other blocks.
Barratt had already paid out £56million to fix fire safety and structural problems on its “legacy properties”, principally Citiscape, as Inside Croydon reported earlier this year. Barratt Developments say they have committed £163million to deal with other cladding issues.
It is estimated that the developer will have spent more than £30million to buy the Citiscape flats from leaseholders, for properties which might otherwise have been valueless and unsellable, since lenders have been refusing to offer mortgages on homes associated with flammable cladding.
Barratt discovered failures with the reinforced concrete frame at Citiscape during a review of its developments in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.
The Grenfell fire, which killed 72 people, exposed deficiencies in the building safety regime and the potential abuse of safety tests by companies supplying the cladding and insulation to those homes.
Citiscape leaseholders were moved out of their building in September 2019 and Barratt paid for their accommodation until the end of 2020.
It has been reported that Barratts are also buying the building’s freehold from a company controlled by Vincent Tchenguiz, the property tycoon.
Barratts are understood to be pursuing a legal claim against Citiscape’s design company, and that they could demolish the block to make way for a new development.
A review of high-rise residential buildings in England after Grenfell has uncovered serious failings beyond cladding issues at some sites. Thousands of leaseholders have faced years of uncertainty over who will cover the cost of remediation work.
The government has created a £5.1billion fund to cover some of the costs of removing flammable cladding designated unsafe. Flat-owners in blocks below 18 metres in height have been offered loans only.
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Glad to see a major developer setting an example . Let’s hope that others follow.
I feel that the purchase of flats in blocks of 2 floors or more should be conducted with a new concept for sale of property, founded on a key concept enshrined in the Sale of Goods Act.
This is “Fitness for Purpose”, which in the case of flats should be guaranteed in respect of the structure and designed claddings, roofs and services. Plus, sales should be backed with a min. 40 year warranty, insurance backed, which would be passed on from the first purchaser to each successor in turn.
Purchasers depend on the designers and builders to build a safe structure that will last for decades without fundamental flaws.
Why should innocent purchasers have to pay for defective, flawed products, that have been badly designed, or badly built, or built corrrectly but with materials and techniques that are flawed and faulty, which have been subjected to minimal or badly-designed fire and materials testing regimes, or crack up, or suffer from water ingress etc etc.
I seriously think that flats are “goods”, a product.
Until there is clarity and better protection for Leaseholders I would suggest people do not buy anything with cladding or above the 4th floor. I would also suggest that no taxpayer money goes into building schemes and no Council/Mayor/Minster support is given in any way to any building that does not enshrine in the lease the freeholder responsibility to maintain the structure. Service rates etc, should all be done in house with no cross subsidy by managing agents to hike up unreasonable charges at will.
I wonder what Barratt will do with the site. Try to refurbish the thing, add more floors, or demolish and replace with something else entirely?
I think they will demolish and redo it, I heard that residents not allowed back in and are being offered £50 per appliance in the block, now a new integrated washing machine is around £700 they want to put you fiddy pound for it, what a joke