Basingstoke MP calls for action for fire safety works at Crown Heights

An urgent appeal has been issued to a homebuilder to move forward with fire safety work at Crown Heights.

As previously reported, the exterior cladding of Crown Heights, which has about 250 flats, contains the flammable material ‘expanded polystyrene’ and has no firebreaks.

This means that if a fire breaks out, it could engulf the entire building in a similar way to the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017.

The building’s original developer, Barratt Homes Southern, is currently conducting a risk assessment on Crown Heights to see what needs to be done, with new fire systems, such as heat sensors, to try and reduce the risk of fire.

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However, the lengthy process has upset the residents of the building.

Basingstoke MP, Maria Miller, chaired a meeting of the Crown Heights Residents Association and Barratt Homes.

Ms Miller said: “Crown Heights residents have been under untold pressure due to uncertainty over when fire safety work would be completed in their building. It is important that those responsible for the works keep residents informed of the work they are doing, and it is reassuring that, in light of this meeting, Barratts has also agreed to engage in direct dialogue with residents in the future.

“I am glad that some progress is being made. Barratt’s has signed the Building Safety Pledge and has now begun the fire risk assessment of the exterior walls, due for completion in December. Residents also receive a reimbursement from the service costs fund for the costs of the Waakwacht. At the meeting, Barratts made it clear that they will work directly with residents who need to take out a new mortgage, providing the necessary information mortgage lenders need once a budgeted and funded recovery plan is agreed.

Nurse Peter Bell, who has a co-ownership mortgage on a Crown Heights condo, said he was “effectively trapped” because of the building’s cladding.

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He said: “My girlfriend and I both work in the hospital and we have enough money to buy a house for good, but we can’t get off the mortgage here until the cladding is done.

“It just gets kicked down the road every time; I think we are now talking about starting sometime next year and continuing until 2025.”

Meanwhile, Ms Miller continued: “However, it is vital that Barratts take all possible measures to complete the work quickly and provide much-needed security and peace of mind to residents. I will also be reaching out to Borough Council on behalf of residents to request that the planning application to carry out these works be given immediate priority.

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