Category Archives: Maintenance

Lambeth Reprocurement Panel

Committee member Michelle is part of a panel of Lambeth residents that will help with the procurement of a contractor to provide the following services across the borough:

  • Capital Works / Decent Homes
  • Responsive Repairs, Void Property Repairs, Planned and Cyclical
  • Maintenance, Estate Cleaning and Grounds Maintenance
  • Door Entry, Access Control and CCTV systems
  • Gas Servicing, Heating Systems, Water Storage and Landlord’s
    Electrics
  • Lift Maintenance

The first meeting of the new panel was on 29th October. Please contact us if you would like to read the report of the meeting.

Major works planned for 2019-2020

We have received an ‘indicative capital programme‘ for the 2019-2020 accounting year. This shows that the planned works for Palace Road Estate are in four categories: (i) externals, (ii) water tanks and boosters, (iii) communal heating / distribution / control and (iv) electrics. No other Lambeth estate has work planned in as many as four categories. The draft programme will go to the council’s overview and scrutiny committee for their approval.

External condition report

Perhaps as a result of our request during the visit of Chuka Umunna MP to the estate, the council has carried out an inspection to see what work is required to renovate the external elements of the buildings. The report can be downloaded here.

The report says that the following work is necessary:

  • Total replacement of the roofs.
  • Replacement of windows, including patio/balcony doors.
  • Upgrading of doors to flats to meet fire safety standards.
  • Repairs to balconies, “including timber replacement and replacement or alternative glazing”.

This work, together with the necessary structural repairs, is estimated to cost in the region of £10.5 million. We have been told that this work will form part of Lambeth’s capital works programme over several years, starting in the 2019-2020 budgetary year.

Structural inspection report

We have been provided with a report on a structural inspection that was carried out on 31st May and 1st June 2018. The inspection was made by structural engineers employed by Lambeth Council. It makes a number of interesting observations:

  • Lack of routine maintenance, including painting timber cladding, repairing minor cracks in masonry and replacing damaged windows and glass panels on the balconies.
  • Water ingress in concrete structural elements (lintels and floor slabs) leading to pieces of concrete falling from heights, leading to “health & safety risks to the residents and visitors to the buildings.”
  • “A system of tree management should be set up and put in place to manage the trees in the estate in consultation with Lambeth’s Trees Section.” This comment will come as a surprise to service charge payers who are regularly charged significant sums for tree maintenance.

Despite the reported immediate risks from falling pieces of concrete, the council chose not to inform residents until their letter about initial works to make the concrete safe in mid-July.

The report asserts that “None of the defects mentioned above is considered as impairing the structural stability and integrity of the buildings at present.” However, since the inspection excluded the garages, above which many of the flats are built, PRERA has requested that the garages are also inspected.

Concrete works

As we have recently heard, there is a problem with some of the concrete that is present in the flats. Corrosion of the steel inside has caused flakes of concrete to fall from the surface of the concrete. This is an obvious safety hazard and we are glad to hear that the council is now going to carry out works to make the concrete safe. Notices about the works have just appeared around the estate – see below.

PRERA will continue to press the council for details of plans to carry out repairs to the surface of the concrete and to carry out preventative maintenance that will reduce the penetration of water into the concrete.

Meeting with the new Lambeth Cabinet Member for Housing

On 15 June, representatives from PRERA met with the Lambeth Council’s new Cabinet Member for Housing – Cllr Paul Gadsby. Also present were our local councillor Liz Atkins and several senior officers responsible for the council’s housing stock. At the meeting we discussed four key areas:

  • Maintenance
  • Contractor performance
  • Waste management
  • Community space

We felt that the meeting was a significant milestone in our campaign to get a better service from the council in these areas. Signs of progress include:

  • An acknowledgement from the council that Palace Road Estate has not been receiving the service it should from housing management.
  • A restructuring of the housing management service next month, with reallocation of housing officers to estates.
  • A written description of the service that we should expect from estate housing officers.
  • Recent surveys of the structural condition of the blocks of flats. This will inform future prioritisation of works across Lambeth.
  • The scheduling of an inspection of the estate by the incoming manager responsible for housing across the whole of Lambeth [carried out on 22 June].
  • A commitment that leaseholders would not be charged [directly] for work to rectify problems with the poorly constructed cladding for the water pipes that were installed in 2013.
  • An acknowledgment that water distribution around the site is failing and needs replacement. This was proposed to be included in the 2019/20 capital works programme.
  • A commitment to develop a policy for bulky waste disposal on council estates.
  • Prioritisation of Palace Road Estate in the placement of the council’s stock of mobile CCTV cameras (after Tulse Hill Estate), to deter fly-tipping.
  • Support from Cllr Gadsby for residents to have access to the community space within the new resource centre on Coburg Crescent.
  • An acknowledgement that the council needs to better engage with PRERA in future.
Lambeth Town Hall. Photo: Stuart Taylor
Lambeth Town Hall. Photo: Stuart Taylor

Hazards around the estate – falling concrete

The committee has been informed of a hazard on the estate that we weren’t previously aware of – falling concrete. This can be added to the list of hazards that includes sheets of glass falling from the balconies, holes in the ground and disintegrating wooden and PVC boxing.

Apparently, the reinforcing rods within the concrete slabs in the blocks of flats are corroding, causing flakes of concrete to fall down. Please be aware of this hazard and do not spend time standing under such concrete lintels and balconies.

PRERA has asked the council when repair work will be carried out to this and other long-standing maintenance issues. We also asked how and when residents would be informed of health and safety hazards that had been identified by the council.

An example from near the roof-line, four storeys above ground level.
An example of decaying concrete near the roof-line, four storeys above ground level.

Renovation of balconies

The PRERA committee have heard, informally, that the council is moving towards the renovation of the balconies across the estate. This is something that the committee has been campaigning for for years, due to their dangerously decrepit state.

We are told that a contractor has been chosen and will replace a small section of balustrade as a trail. We have enquired about whether planning permission is required and whether a Section 20 consultation should have been carried out. (If the cost is over £250 per leaseholder, then leaseholders must be consulted.) We will pass on further information when we hear it.

Is your balcony dangerous?
Time to renovate?