North East UK news What it's like to be 'trapped' in unsafe cladding crisis MetiNews.Com
MetiNews.Com - Approaching four years since the Grenfell Tower disaster, the St Ann’s Quay apartment block overlooking the Tyne still features unsafe aluminium composite material
Breaking News ! A dangerous cladding crisis has left residents of Newcastle’s Quayside feeling “trapped”, helpless, and facing potential £30,000 repair bills. Approaching four years since the Grenfell Tower disaster, the St Ann’s Quay apartment block overlooking the Tyne still features unsafe aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding similar to that which was responsible for the spread of the devastating blaze that killed 72 people. The announcement of a new £3.5bn Government fund this month to pay for the removal of cladding has been cautiously welcomed by St Ann’s residents, but there are still many unanswered questions and major uncertainty – especially as the location was rejected from a previous fund. Max Whitehouse has lived at the Quayside spot since February 2018 with girlfriend Holly and says the worries caused by the building’s multiple fire safety defects have come to dominate their lives. The 29-year-old said: “I always worry about it, it has been the biggest part of our lives for the past couple of years. You feel trapped. “My girlfriend is a nurse at the RVI. With everything going on at the moment with Covid she wants to come home and relax, but then we have this to deal with. It is very stressful. “I try to reassure her that it is just for the time being and it will all pass, but it is really hard at the moment.” Read More Related Articles Good fun or an accident waiting to happen? What our reporter thought of Newcastle's new e-scooters Read More Related Articles Call for criminal investigation into 7,000 fake comments in Newcastle bridge closure row The couple had planned to sell their flat and move abroad, but have instead found themselves stuck and facing a huge bill to pay for the building to be brought up to standard if the Government leaves St Ann’s leaseholders to foot the bill, which has been estimated at around £2m. Max, a plumber, added that additional costs caused by the defects have already resulted in residents’ service charges going up from £250 per month to more than £400. He added: “It is not sustainable for us, we can’t keep agreeing to pay more and more. One day we just won’t be able to pay, simple as that.” The building’s cladding, timber balconies, and problems with cavity fire stopping that would help stop a blaze from spreading have meant that residents have had to remove barbecues and resulted in pictures being taken down from hallways to ensure any tiny holes in walls can be filled. The Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed last summer that an inspection of the building found that not only was the building’s cladding not compliant with stricter post-Grenfell fire safety regulations, it would not have met the proper safety standards when it was completed in 2003 – though builder Robertson denied this. St Ann's Quay on Newcastle's Quayside Those failings have left residents shocked and furious, with many having paid for their own building surveys before buying that highlighted none of the problems. Martin Nuernberg, who has lived at St Ann’s since 2015, said: “The main feeling for me is the disbelief that it could have happened in the first place, there are so many rules and regulations around building and yet this place has so many problems. “Yet the people and the companies who broke those rules are not the ones having to pay for it.
.” The 31-year-old is due to move to a new home in March but has had little interest in the top-floor Quayside flat he has been trying to sell for a couple of years. Danielle Colligan owned her flat for 15 years and now rents it out, but says the cladding ordeal had become a “really terrible situation for everyone” connected to the building – with flats left unsafe, uninsurable, and unsellable.
She added: “I know this is a huge issue and it was never going to be solved overnight, but it has felt like we aren’t being listened to – and if they are listening, they are not understanding. “At St Ann’s Quay we have an issue with cladding, but also other fire safety problems, and I know that is the case for a lot of other people up and down the country. “The Government needs to get a grip on the scale of this problem. “But it was not the Government’s fault to start with, the responsibility lies with the builders and the people who signed off on these buildings. I don’t know how it can be possible that those people are not held accountable. “Why should it be left to the taxpayer to cover this? There has to be some sort of corporate responsibility.”
St Anns Quay
Vickey Brockley had rented at St Ann’s for five years before she and husband Gerard bought their “dream” flat in September 2019, just a couple of months before the building’s problems began to emerge. She said: “If it ends up that we have to pay some money, we would rather do it and be safe than not. But a lot of people are not in a position where they could pay and that does play on my mind. “There are a lot of older people who live here too who I worry for. When you are a younger person, you are more confident that you would be okay if a fire alarm went off and would hope that you could get out okay. But some older residents here are not that mobile anyway, never mind if it happened in the middle of the night.” Housing secretary Robert Jenrick promised that leaseholders in high-rise blocks above 18m, which St Ann’s Quay is, will face no costs for cladding remediation work. He did also announce a new levy on developers to contribute to the costs of removing cladding, saying: “This is a comprehensive plan to remove unsafe cladding, support leaseholders, restore confidence to this part of the housing market and ensure this situation never arises again. “Our unprecedented intervention means the hundreds of thousands of leaseholders who live in higher-rise buildings will now pay nothing towards the cost of removing unsafe cladding. “Remedying the failures of building safety cannot just be a responsibility for taxpayers. That is why we will also be introducing a levy and tax on developers to contribute to righting the wrongs of the past.”
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Source = MetiNews.Com