Last Thursday, our treasurer, Phil, met with representatives from Engie (the contractors), Pellings (the consultants) and Lambeth council to discuss the major works programme. The meeting initially discussed points carried over from the last meeting:
The major works won’t be able to pick up all ‘responsive repairs’ as the Major works will be phased over a number of year, so residents are still advised to raise repair requests in the normal way (as opposed to assuming that major works will cover them).
Lambeth acknowledged their database of freeholders on Coburg Crescent is wrong, and are rectifying this. This came to light as homeowners were wrongly sent letters implying that their homes were council owned. Correction letters are being sent, and the contractors (Engie) have been knocking on doors to speak to owners.
Leaseholders in Baly and Ducavel should expect to receive Section 20 notices (S20s) by late September ‘at the very latest’. This is to allow works to commence in November/December (after 6 weeks consultation).
The S20s will include a package of works. For Baly and Ducavel Houses this is water works and improvement works; for Bushel Close this is water and boiler works.
The council agreed to contact the department working on Palace Road Community Center to ensure some kind of link up here.
The phasing means that a number of tenanted properties on Coburg Crescent have seen works begin. This will be followed by Baly and Ducavel Houses, with boiler works on Bushell Close and the rest of the estate after this.
There followed an update from Engie on the current works:
Scaffolding is up on the first 6 houses, surveys are underway. Once these are complete the pace of works can pick up, with the remaining 31 houses to do.
They are looking for a site to place an additional storage containers, the unused below surface garages were suggested.
They will erect notice boards to provide information on site workers, contacts, etc.
Lastly, Phil raised some points:
With wrong letters sent out how will they improve communications? Whilst an all resident newsletter was rejected, those receiving works will receive monthly newsletters. An additional idea was accepted, to put notices up on all notice boards.
Can they have a resident meeting? They are looking to set up a leaseholders drop-in meeting, but are undecided whether this should be extended to all residents as many are not receiving works in the current phase. I strongly advocated to open it to all.
Phil emphasised that letting him/the TRA know about stuff was not the same as communicating with residents, and that the TRA is not responsible for sharing information about these works. This was agreed with.
These meetings will be held monthly at Engie’s compound in the car park on Coburg Crescent. The committee will endeavour to send a representative to each meeting. Please let us know if there is anything that you would like raised at these meetings.
Scaffolding has been erected at a number of houses along Coburg Crescent. Following enquires by the committee, PRERA has learned that six houses will have external work carried out. We are told that this includes:
Front entrance door replacement
Fabric repairs to building (bricks, concrete or both)
The work is to be carried out by the contractor Engie and is expected to be completed by the end of September. Engie will then move on to working on Baly House and Ducavel House.
Letters have been sent to many Coburg Crescent residents informing them of this work. Unfortunately, we are aware of at least two freeholders who were sent letters informing them that Engie will carry out work on their properties. Have you also received a worrying or confusing letter about these works? Has scaffolding appeared on your house and you don’t know why? Let us know.
A resident who is a leaseholder has recently received a letter from the council notifying them of a proposal to appoint a contractor for ‘consultancy and asset management services for our capital and technical programmes’. The letter is dated 5 July 2019.
The letter refers to a ‘notice of intention’, dated April 2018. Did you receive this letter? If so, could you let us know?
On the 1st of March PRERA representatives attended a meeting with
Pellings (who are lead consultants for the forthcoming major works project on
the estate) and Lambeth.
A summary of the meeting on further communications is below. PRERA will
continue to insist on early and clear communications to all residents directly
from the council and Pellings. Please note, this is all the information that
PRERA have at the moment. We will endeavor to keep residents updated should
more information be made available.
Two packages of
work There will be two packages of work, an external works package and works relating to the replacement of the existing water mains to each block on the estate. This means residents will receive two separate Section 20 notices.
Plan and Cost PRERA have been told there will be approximately £2.5m spent annually over the next three years. Due to this, the work will be phased across the estate. The order of works has not been finalised by PRERA have been informed that the current intention is that
Phase 1 (2019-2020) includes 1-38 Baly House, 1-46 Ducavel House, and 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 Coburg Crescent.
Phase 2 (2020-2021) includes Chalner House, Despard House, Ponton House and 130-139 Coburg Crescent.
Phase 3 (2021-2022) covering the rest of the estate.
The intention is to begin phase 1 in June/July, once the S20
consultation is complete and resident engagement has been undertaken.
Section 20’s We understand Section 20’s will be block specific. So Baly House and Ducavel should receive these first, expected currently in the next few weeks. There will be two separate Section 20’s: one for the major works and one for water works.
The Work Relating to phase 1, PRERA have been told the works include: ‘communal/ external decorations, roof replacement, external fabric repairs (brick/concrete) (provisional sum only), scaffold for access, window replacement, asbestos surveys and removals (provisional sum only), balcony repairs (provisional sum only), balcony drainage surveys and associated repairs.’
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.
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.
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.
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.