A few years ago the heating pipes for Baly, Ponton, Ducavel and Despard Houses were re-routed. They were moved from the interior of the buildings, where they were difficult to maintain, to the exterior of the building. The pipes were clad with a mixture of white PVC and painted plywood. The plywood quickly degraded, delaminating and shedding the pigeon-spikes that were installed on top.
The coucil applied for retrospective planning permission for the above work in 2015 (Ref. 15/00106/RG3), but this was refused on the grounds of the materials chosen being unsuitable (the painted plywood) and insufficient drawings being provided. Lambeth has now made an updated planning application (Ref. 16/05754/RG3) in which they propose to replace some of the cladding with powder-coated galvanised steel. Comments can be made on this application through the Lambeth Planning Portal.
After the visit to the estate by Peter De Bique (Senior Project Manager at Lambeth Housing) on 29th July this year (detailed in this post) we have just heard that an inspection of the balconies will take place tomorrow (1st December) and Friday. The results of the inspection will be used by Ray Hussain (Asset Manager) to draw up a specification for work to repair the balconies. It is expected that this work will start in January 2017.
In the meantime, any balconies identified as a health and safety issue will be made safe immediately, we are told. If your balcony is dangerous, please point this out to the inspectors, if you can.
On 22nd October we noticed that another plank in the platform at the top of the slide had given way, so we reported it to the estate services team. On 31st October we heard that the slide had been repaired. Result!
For years, members of the PRERA committee have been lobbying to have the many defective lamps across the estate repaired. Recently, with the intervention of councillors, we have started to make significant progress.
A survey of the street-lighting on 20th September 2016 showed that lamps numbered 001, 005, 013, 014, 015, 022, 023, 025, 026, 031 and 047 were not working, or missing. The status of these lamps is as follows:
Lamps 022, 023, 025 and 026 were disconnected when our community hall was demolished. Although the problem with these lamps was raised with Estate Services on 15th May 2015, the council has only recently requested that UK Power Networks (UKPN) re-connect the supply.
According to Estate Services, lamps 013, 014, 015 and 047 are also due to be fixed by UKPN.
It is currently unclear whether there is any plan to repair or replace lamps 001, 005 and 031. 001 rusted through at the base and fell over. 005 was hit by a vehicle and knocked over. 031 is simply not working. Unlike the roadside lamps, 031 is managed by Lambeth Council, not UKPN.
What does it take to get a drain cover fixed? This is the story of how the PRERA committee managed to get the council to repair a dangerous drain cover:
On 5th July 2016 Rob (Deputy Contracts Representative) noticed a dangerously broken drain cover at the north corner of the estate. He took a photo and reported it to Teodoro De Carvalho (Estate Services Officer) on 6th July. Mr De Carvalho replied on the 7th July promising to investigate it on 8th July.
On 5th August Rob noticed that the drain cover was in an even more dangerous state than before, so he emailed Mr De Carvalho to enquire about progress. On 25th August Cllr Iain Simpson enquired about whether it had been fixed. On 30th August Mr De Carvalho replies to both confirming that the job to repair the drain cover has been completed.
On 30th August Franny (Vice Chair) checks the ‘completed’ repair job and finds that it really isn’t completed. Rob emails Mr De Carvalho to ask why a job is marked complete when it isn’t. This sparks an email discussion involving three councillors (including one cabinet member), three council officers and the primary contractor – Mears.
On 2nd September Mr De Carvalho confirms that the drain cover has been replaced, with a photo attached as proof.
Not all repairs are this much work to get fixed, but this story isn’t unusual. We are trying to work with the council to improve the efficiency of the routine and reactive maintenance of our estate.
This morning Franny, Claudette and Rob met up with Peter De-Bique, a Senior Project Manager working in the South Area Team of Lambeth Housing Management. Peter had not visited the estate before, so we gave him a tour, pointing out areas that require maintenance. We paid particular attention to the balconies, some of which are in a dangerous state, due to missing or loose panes of glass. We also noted drainage problems on the balconies leading to water damage to the masonry and rotting wood.
Problems with water drainage were also evident in some of the blocks of garages, where there were large areas of standing water. We also discussed replacement or repair of the roofs and windows. Peter took photos of all the problems that we saw and promised to write a short report for us. He will request urgent repairs to the faults that are dangerous or causing building damage and will check the programme of capital works to see whether our estate features on it. If it doesn’t, he will look into when our estate can get these much needed repairs.
It’s been an exciting week for maintenance on the estate. After last Friday’s walkabout with Teodoro from Estate Services and Peter from Pinnacle, not only have five new bollards appeared, but the bund (grassy bank) next to the new parking spaces on Coburg Crescent has been covered in topsoil and seeded with grass seed.
The PRERA committee have been chasing the council to finish the work on the parking spaces since January. When the new bund was created, it was full of rubbish, rubble and tree roots. Once the grass has grown the bund should be much more attractive than it was before. The new topsoil will enable the grass to be cut in future without the grass-cutting equipment being damaged by the rubble.
The PRERA committee periodically takes part in ‘walkabouts’ with representatives from Estate Services, contractors and councillors. These typically involve walking around the whole estate identifying problems with maintenance and cleaning. These are recorded in our maintenance requests spreadsheet. When the problems have been solved, this is recorded on the spreadsheet.
The last walkabout happened on 11th April. This was attended by Franny and Rob from the committee, Teodoro (our Estate Housing Officer), Samelia (from Pinnacle) and Iain Simpson (one of our local councillors). A large number of issues were noted, some of which could be addressed quickly and others that are longer term. Two issues in the former category have already been addressed – see the photos below.
The fence next to the steps down to Christchurch Road has been in a mangled state for a year or two after a car crashed into it. The adjoining wall was fixed fairly promptly, but the broken fence remained for many months. After the PRERA commitee raised the issue in January, the fence has finally been fixed, greatly smartening the appearance of the estate from Christchurch Road.
It is not known whether the cost of the repair was reclaimed from the insurers of the crashed vehicle.