Croydon v Croydon: Brick by Brick building declared a ‘danger’

The council’s failed development company has been criticised for its late-running, incomplete and vastly over-budget projects. Now one of its most prestigious schemes has been officially ruled to be a danger to the public.

One of the council-owned building company’s most prestige projects has been declared to be a “Dangerous Structure” – by Croydon Council.

Style over substance: the entrance to Pimp House, with the council warning notice Sellotaped above the entry pad

Pimp House is the building close to Norwood Junction railway station, built by Brick by Brick at a cost of £3.8million and completed in July 2020. It was supposed to deliver a new public library and 14 flats.

While most of the new homes appear to have been occupied, the library has remained unfinished and unused for two years, the cash-strapped council with no budget to furnish it and equip it.

Brick by Brick is the development company established in 2015 which, more than any other factor, caused Croydon Council to go bankrupt 18 months ago, after the business failed to repay a penny of the £200million in loans from the Town Hall.

The latest development at the dodgy development company came on Friday when keen-eyed South Norwood locals spotted a notice Sellotaped unceremoniously to the unswept and grubby-looking entrance of the new-ish building on Station Road.

In big, bold, black capital letters, it reads, “Dangerous structure notice”.

From the council’s building control department, the notice is dated February 18 this year, and coincides with Storm Eunice, when 90mph winds whipped through London, and bricks were seen to fall from Pimp House.

Bricking it: masonry was seen to fall off the new building during the storms in February

Addressed for “the attention of the owner of the structure referred to below”, the notice states that it has been issued under the provisions of the London Building Acts (amendment) Act 1939 Part VII, Section 43 of the London Government Act 1963 and the London Local Authorities Act 2000, Chapter VII.

Scrawled in dark marker pen, a council official has written, “Falling masonry and parapet construction.”

This should all be a bit embarrassing for the now former executives of Brick by Brick, such as Colm Lacey and Chloë Phelps, since Pimp House was designed by their own in-house architects Common Ground.

Common Ground was headed by Phelps, who late last year quit her deputy CEO role at Brick by Brick and, according to the ever-fawning Architects’ Journal, “launched a new architecture studio with council estate regeneration developer Place Capital Group”.

The Pimp House building’s construction involved several different firms, including Rivington Street Studio as “executive architect”, as well as structural engineers Pell Frischman, Carter Jonas (particular faves of BxB) as planning consultants and Neilcott Construction Group as the main contractors.

Pimp House, of course, is not the first Brick by Brick project where significant flaws and issues have been discovered after the works have supposedly been completed: the Fairfield Halls refurb went over budget by £37million and is still not finished.

Embarrassing: ex-Croydon Council staffer Chloë Phelps

Back in 2020, before anyone at the Labour-run council was finally forced to admit to the financial foolishness going on at the spendthrift Brick by Brick, Phelps had boasted about Pimp House, “We started working on designs for Pump House when it was just three of us working directly for Croydon Council in the development team…

“It’s one of the first projects we’ve designed, and has allowed us to develop our design rationale, which is about creating schemes that are characterful and of their place, while being deliverable and commercially astute.” Whoops.

Pretentious Phelps went on to claim that Pimp House “has really transformed the feel of the street”.

It has now transformed the street into a dangerous no-go zone, according to her former employers at Croydon Council.

The Pimp House Dangerous Structure Notice says, “The London Borough of Croydon acting in accordance with the above Acts has caused a survey to be made of the above structure. As a result of that survey the structure has been certified to be in a dangerous state.”

“Certified” no less. And barely two years since it was completed, too.

Due notice: the council’s official notification on the entrance to Brick by Brick’s Pimp House

The building control official has used the marker pen to delete paragraphs that don’t apply, leaving (b): “the council will place lamps and/or barriers to restrict people from the danger area and will send you an invoice for this work”. The new owners of the flats will doubtless be delighted at such a prospect.

Though as the council is technically the owner of the library space, perhaps they will be pitching in with a contribution towards the costs that they have incurred…

And there’s para (d): “the whole of the danger has not been removed”.

The residents in the flats above will doubtless have spent a few hours over the weekend scouring their home insurance policies, while also checking the building warranty they might have received when they took the keys to their new home. For their sake, at least, it is to be hoped that such a document has more validity than any of the other promises made by Phelps, Lacey and Brick by Brick.

Read more: Council slips through £5m deal to buy Brick by Brick houses
Read more: Council sells off public green space to Brick by Brick for just £1
Read more: Council set to take £100m hit as it winds down Brick by Brick
Read more: Conflicts of interest, incomplete contracts, unlawful payments

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in Brick by Brick, Business, Colm Lacey, Croydon Council, Libraries, Norwood Junction, Planning, Property, South Norwood and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Croydon v Croydon: Brick by Brick building declared a ‘danger’

  1. derekthrower says:

    For a leasehold development like this isn’t it standard that the common parts which have suffered damage fall under the responsibility of whoever is the freeholder of the development, which in theory should be good old Brick by Brick? So make sure you carry a crash helmet with you when walking past in the wind. It’s for your own good for some considerable amount of time.

  2. Caroline Jones says:

    I assume the reference to “Pimp house” throughout the article is the fault of autocorrect on someone’s spellchecker. Although a very apt name for this particular building it might not be seen as so amusing by the poor residence stuck with a condemned flat.

    • It’s entirely deliberate.

      It is what we dubbed the building as soon as Block by Block decided to name it after an entirely unconnected and unassociated building three miles away off Surrey Street.

  3. Claire Brookes says:

    This is what happens when you have Jo Negrini acting like the The Pied Piper of Hamelin.

    The architects who the Council and BrickbyBrick employed (it was never clear if they were on CC’s or BxB’s books?) were not up to the task – they were way to young and inexperienced.

    Will this be a claim on the architect’s professional indemnity insurance or will Croydon Council Tax payers foot the bill.

    BxB were really naive from the beginning – this is the real world kicking in and surprise surprise, everyone responsible has resigned.

  4. Henry Channon says:

    Pimp House! Sounds about right!

  5. Ken Lloyd says:

    ONCE AGAIN another damaging report has reached the eyes of the ratepayers of Croydon. When are CROYDON COUNCIL GOING TO COME CLEAN and inform all of the present financial state and if there is any truth in any of the articles that have been published by ‘Inside Croydon’
    All the articles published by Inside Croydon leave a bad taste in our mouths which could only be cured by a very strong mouthwash. 

  6. Dan Young says:

    Brick by brick projects were designed by entry level architects at best , they guessed their way through the construction process .

    A complete shambles and disgrace .Some of these people should be behind bars

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