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Developer makes offer to repair apartment blocks plagued by structural problems

17 Apr 2024 5 minute read
Vega House is the tallest apartment block at Celestia in Cardiff Bay. Pic: Ted Peskett

Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter

Residents living in apartment blocks plagued by structural issues have welcomed an offer by a developer to start putting things right.

Celestia Management Company Limited (CMCL) called Redrow’s offer to undertake and fund works to address fire safety defects and fix the outside of the buildings near Cardiff’s Roath Basin a significant step, but added that it has taken “far too long” to materialise.

Leaseholders at Celestia have had to pay out thousands of pounds in service charges over the years to help remediate the buildings – seven in total – which have developed patches of algae and had chunks of render fall off them.

The offer by Redrow, which CMCL estimates to be worth about £20m, comes at a time when legal proceedings between CMCL and the company over the remediation of the buildings are ongoing.

Disruption

In its statement, CMCL said leaseholders will “have to endure another three years of disruption” before work is carried out and urged public bodies to make sure deadlines are met

The statement reads: “Although there are some important omissions in Redrow’s offer, we believe these can be addressed satisfactorily with goodwill.

“We are – and always have been – ready to move forward to facilitate with the remediation of Celestia at pace.

“The target completion date is early 2027, which means leaseholders have to endure another three years of disruption and being unable to sell.

“The timetable must not slip and we need the support of the Welsh Government, Cardiff City Council, planning authorities and others, including the freeholder, to ensure it does not do so.

“We are responding formally in writing to Redrow and look forward to working with them to ensure rapid progress and to addressing the important question of compensation for leaseholders. “

Defects

Defects at the Celestia buildings were identified five years ago, according to CMCL.

Internal compartmentation work, which is aimed at preventing the spread of smoke and fire in a building, took place between 2020 and 2021.

However, leaseholders argued a lot more was required to put the apartment complex right, leading to them take legal action against Redrow over who should pay for it.

One woman who moved to Celestia more than five years ago told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) in 2023 that she had to pay £7,000 that year in service charges.

Ruth Wainwright, 73, said her management fees were £3,000 when she first moved to Celestia, which was marketed to potential buyers after its construction in 2007 “in the most glossy possible terms”, according to another resident.

When the LDRS spoke to Ruth, she also recalled a time when she saw builders pinning back render that was coming away from the building.

She said: “If it fell on somebody they would be killed. If you walk around… there are loads of places where chunks have come off and they have had to be patched up which then looks awful as well.”

Building safety pact

Redrow signed up to a building safety pact, called the deed of bilateral contract, set up by the Welsh Government which commits developers to fix high rise buildings of 11 storeys or more that have life-threatening fire safety issues.

Redrow has said over the years that it believes the housebuilding industry should also play its part in resolving fire safety issues in high-rise buildings.

Laing O’Rourke, which built the Celestia complex, said in the past that it engaged proactively with Redrow and CMCL over the remediation of the site.

In a statement Redrow said: “Redrow previously funded the management company’s internal fire safety works at Celestia, which we are advised are now completed.

“We have recently written to the management company outlining our proposals to undertake fire safety works to the external building façade as defined by independent fire safety experts.

“Once we receive the management company’s agreement to these works and confirmation they will grant the necessary access licences we will progress the project with expert remedial contractors as soon as possible.

“This accords with our commitment under the Welsh Government’s deed of bilateral contract, which we signed last year.”

Redrow signed up to a building safety pact, called the deed of bilateral contract, set up by the Welsh Government which commits developers to fix high rise buildings of 11 storeys or more that have life-threatening fire safety issues.

Redrow has said over the years that it believes the housebuilding industry should also play its part in resolving fire safety issues in high-rise buildings.

Laing O’Rourke, which built the Celestia complex, said in the past that it engaged proactively with Redrow and CMCL over the remediation of the site.

The company has also responded to various requests for technical information to assist with CMCL’s investigations and risk assessments in relation to Celestia.

Laing O’Rourke has been approached for a comment.


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hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

So they bloody should ! Claiming some credit for finally getting off their overpriced arses is not a clever pose. They should have been tackling defects free of charge from the outset and not making people who had overpaid for the poor workmanship fund work while they deployed smart alec lawyers to evade responsibility.

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