‘Fire risk’ cladding removal from Bexhill apartment block delayed - this is why

Work to remove cladding deemed to be a fire risk from a seafront apartment complex in Bexhill has been delayed.

Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 2:44 pm
Adrienne Burton (left) and Elaine Stevens pictured in front of The Landmark building in Bexhill in February. SUS-210902-115534001

The Observer reported earlier this year how residents living in the Landmark building said they were ‘living in fear’ after surveyors recommended major repairs to the complex following a safety report.

Residents have seen their insurance costs rise, as well as bills for new safety measures increase.

Some said their flats were now worthless, leaving them unable to sell up.

Adrienne Burton said: “Work to remove the cladding is not likely to start until next year. It was supposed to start by the end of September this year.

“We have had to become evacuation managers ourselves. The Waking Watch scheme we had was costing us around £7,000 a week.”

A Waking Watch service involves trained persons patrolling all floors and the exterior of a building in order to detect a fire, raise the alarm, and carry out evacuation.

Adrienne added: “It’s the financial side of things that’s cost us a shedload of money. It’s like we are living in a tinderbox that could go up in flames. That’s how it’s being portrayed to us and we think it’s a knee-jerk reaction by the Government and fire service.

“It’s not on that the leaseholders should be paying for any of this. It’s the developers who made errors when they were building the Landmark. But they have all gone under.”

In February, Adrienne said she was planning to sell her flat this year but had to abandon her plans.

Earlier this year, Bexhill and Battle MP, Huw Merriman, raised the issue of the Landmark in Parliament calling for the Government to force the building industry to set up a levy to repay the cost of repairs.

New checks on homes have been made since the Grenfell Tower fire in London, which killed 72 people in 2017.

In a statement, Oakfield Estate Agents, managing agents for the Landmark, said: “Oakfield Estate Agents have swiftly and successfully arranged full grant funding and the installation of a full fire detection system at the Landmark, we were pleased to be able to step away from a 24-hour waking watch requirement earlier this year.

“Despite there being additional guidance requiring ongoing evacuation management at the building, we were able to work together with the freehold landlord, the tenant’s association and many volunteer residents to establish a programme whereby this could be managed by leaseholders, bringing significant financial savings at what is already a very challenging time.

“The Freeholder Landlords application to the Building Safety Fund is ongoing, and despite having an initial deadline to start work by the end of September 2021, this has now been relaxed by Homes England and the MHCLG allowing more time to ensure projects are properly planned for and that important documents, such as warranties and grant funding agreements can be agreed and executed.

“These legal documents are currently with our clients’ legal team. We continue to work very hard to see the cladding at The Landmark replaced at the very earliest opportunity.”