Category Archives: Maintenance

Cladding survey

PRERA carried out a quick photographic survey this morning on the cladding over the communal heating pipes. The cladding was found to be coming apart in a number of locations across the estate. It appears that the plywood boxing beneath the white PVC fascia is decaying and losing its structural integrity. Residents and visitors are advised not to loiter beneath.

Falling cladding

Last week another piece of cladding fell from the boxing around our communal heating pipes. This has happened several times previously and the poor state of this cladding has been raised with the council many times. Following this latest fall, we have been promised an “urgent inspection” and “any identified issues will be urgently addressed “.

The poor quality of the work to box in these heating pipes has been clear for several years, now. The work was originally carried out without planning permission. When permission was applied for in 2015, permission was refused, partly because the plywood used was not deemed sufficiently robust. Some sections where bare plywood was used were subsequently replaced with metal, but no work was done where the plywood had white PVC cladding.

A rear view of Ponton House, showing the missing cladding
The cladding, with a wheelie bin, for scale

Hazard at Ponton House

Don’t loiter outside the rear entrance to Ponton House – there is a large piece of metal hanging by a wire four storeys up above the entrance. This was reported to Lambeth Housing on 6 April and again on 10 April. No timescale has been given for its removal.

Update 29/4/2019: Work appears to be starting today, to remove this hazard. A platform is being constructed at the foot of the wall, presumably to allow access.

The metal, which appears to be a cable rack, hanging at fourth storey level.

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.