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Scandal of tower block tenants living in awful conditions for years

12 Mar 2024 6 minute read
Katy Monaghan outside Channel View High Rise block

Martin Shipton

Tenants of a tower block who were told eight years ago that it was due to be demolished and that they’d be rehoused in new homes say they have been abandoned by Cardiff council and forced to live in dreadful conditions.

Katy Monaghan, a longstanding resident of Channel View High Rise in Grangetown, told Nation.Cymru she had to endure regular flooding and sewage from other flats coming into her bath because of poor plumbing that the council won’t rectify because of the delayed demolition plans.,

Floods

A former nurse, Ms Monaghan said:”The flats have inbuilt problems with the plumbing and forever have drain blockages, leaks and floods. The window frames are over 30 years old and falling apart. The cladding which insulated our homes was removed in 2017 as a fire safety precaution after the tragic Grenfell Tower block fire.

“The flats in the upper floors have solid two-hour fire resistant front doors, while the first floor, which includes my flat, and several of the lower floors, have only half-hour fire resistant front doors. See any logic there?

“As expected with any building due to be demolished, only basic repairs have been done and this has been the case since about 2012. Our flats are freezing cold and difficult to heat, seeing as all the warmth goes through the paper thin walls and gaps in the windows.

“In 2016 Cardiff council, our landlord, informed us that our block was going to be demolished and a new block for us was being planned for us to move into just across the road. The following year we were shown plans by council officials, who assured residents of this 13-storey block that we were to be in Phase 1 of the new development.

“We were told that the site where they had demolished several two-storey blocks and several houses was going to be used for a new 11-storey block. A smaller block next to this would house our new flats.

“In 2018 and 2019 we had one or two progress meetings to let us know how things were coming along. We were promised that we would be able to move into our new block of flats by 2023/24.

“Covid-19 and lockdowns obviously delayed things. But, we were shown the draft plans and how our home would look with CGI videos on their website ChannelView Redevelopment” and we were given illustrated designs of the plans.

Channel View

“We heard little from the council after they fenced off a site at the top of Channel View Road, where work had started in 2021/22. Since then there was no activity until a few days before our latest meeting with the council in Feb 2024.

“Different plans were shown to us and some residents were told that although building had started on our designated site, this was for a seven-storey block of flats that was not for us, but for residents outside the area! We have now had our plans put on hold for at least another five years,. when most residents who haven’t died already will definitely be dead by then.

“We have been left in limbo for eight years already, with no improvements or refurbishments, and now this will be extended to 13 years – we’re waiting & waiting!

“We have not received any information from the council as to why, when we have put up with very little maintenance, no upgrades to window frames, freezing cold flats, constant drain blockages etc etc, we are being pushed out of the plans in favour of a different group of people who are younger and from outside the Channel View development area.

“There have been no apologies – nothing but disrespect, disregard and total contempt from this shambles of a “Team” at Cardiff council. Probably because most residents are frail and elderly.”

Claddding

A council spokesperson responded: “Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy a review of the council’s high-rise residential blocks led to the removal of cladding from five high-rises, including Channel View.

“While the cladding on these blocks was not the same as that on Grenfell it no longer met current buildings-safety standards. Consequently, a decision to remove the cladding was taken. Ensuring our residents are safe in their homes is our highest priority.

“Plans were then put in place to reclad the majority of these council high-rise buildings and this work is ongoing.“A decision was made not to re-clad Channel View, but instead to bring forward plans to redevelop the area creating 400 new highly energy-efficient, low-carbon homes, which included the replacement of the existing 180 council-managed properties.

“All our tenants were consulted on the plans and told they would be able to move into the new homes when the development was ready. These proposals have developed and tenants have been updated on any changes.

“Unfortunately, the development of the new buildings has been delayed with the pandemic playing a part. However, we were pleased to recently announce the conclusion of a tender process to appoint Wates Residential as the developer partner for the project. Wates will now deliver all phases of the regeneration scheme with the immediate priority being Phase 1, which is the direct replacement for the existing block of flats at Channel View.

“Work is now underway on site for Phase 1 – and the current residents of Channel View High Rise flats will have first priority to move into the new flats once they are ready.

“Phase 1 consists of two buildings – one larger block which will be a community living scheme to include a range of communal facilities for residents and some staff provision, and a smaller block of 24 independent living older person flats. Although this is one phase of development, the smaller block will be completed and handed over first.

“It is less complex and will be quicker to build. The larger block will follow. All residents in the existing high-rise block will be guaranteed an apartment in the new development, and their needs and preferences will be taken into account in determining which of the two blocks will be their new home.

“We understand that it will still take some time to build the new blocks and therefore a review of the existing building will be carried out to see what improvements can reasonably be made in the meantime. In recognition of the lower thermal efficiency of the current building, funding has been available to tenants to support payment of their utility bills over the winter.”


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