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Residents stuck in ‘unsellable’ flats months after having Grenfell-style cladding removed

19 May 2021, 07:00

By Michael Gaffney

Leaseholders in Manchester have told LBC they fear going bankrupt after being told their homes are an unsellable firetrap - months after the buildings had Grenfell-style cladding removed.

Cypress Place and Vallea Court are believed to be the first high-rises in the country to fail an EWS1 survey after having major works done to fix fire safety problems.

The towers were the first development in the city to be identified as having flammable ACM cladding following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower in June 2017.

They were also some of the first residential buildings in the city to have it taken down, with remedial works taking place through 2020 after the buildings’ developers stepped in to cover the costs.

READ MORE: Loan scheme to remove dangerous cladding from low-rises 'could take years to set up'

Residents thought that was the end of their ordeal – until the results of their EWS1 survey came back last week.

The block was given a B2 rating - the worst possible grade - meaning further expensive interim safety measures will now be needed, as well as another round of major engineering works.

There were parts of the development that were impossible to assess, the survey concluded, meaning another round of remedial work might not even be enough to deem the building safe.

Leaseholder have told LBC they fear of an endless cycle of remediation works
Leaseholder have told LBC they fear of an endless cycle of remediation works. Picture: PA Images

It has left many fearing an endless cycle of experience remediation works, leaving them stranded in un-mortgageable homes they can’t sell at anywhere near market value.

Leaseholder Nick White told LBC: "It is untenable to live like this. The government think we have a huge bank account. They’re treating us like an ATM with a blank cheque.

READ MORE: Treatment of residents' cladding concerns ‘a disgrace,' Sadiq Khan tells inquiry

"We just cannot afford it, we are going to go bankrupt. And our lives are on hold because of it. I’ll be in this flat, until I die."

The cost of fixing issues at the Cypress and Vallea blocks could be partially covered by the government’s Building Safety Fund but leaseholders are worried that completing the right paperwork in time in light of their new survey results will not be possible.

 Andy Burnham (left) and Sadiq Khan (right) have called for more action over cladding in their cities
Andy Burnham (left) and Sadiq Khan (right) have called for more action over cladding in their cities. Picture: PA Images

Campaigners are asking ministers to treat their situation as a special case as the guidance on fire safety changed while their remediation work was underway.

Cypress block leaseholder Simon Harrison said: "The government have moved the goalposts. It’s this drip-feeding of changes and guidance that means that, from when we were told to start, to when we were finished and have tried to get sign-off, everything has changed. How is that fair?"

READ MORE: More than a quarter of cladding safety certificates 'invalid'

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government said: "We are progressing applications to the Building Safety Fund as quickly as possible.

"The Government is bringing forward the biggest improvements to building and fire safety in 40 years – including a comprehensive £5 billion plan to help protect hundreds of thousands of leaseholders from the cost of making the tallest buildings with the most dangerous cladding safer."