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This page was last updated 13 January 2022
The investigation work required at Parkside has been split into two parts.
The EWS1 surveys for all of the blocks at Parkside were completed in June 2021. We now have the findings of these surveys, and have shared these with residents. These show that some buildings will be given a B1-rated EWS1 form.
However, there are a number of blocks across the development that will need either remedial work completing, or mitigation measures putting in place to bring them to a B1 standard. This is because some buildings do have some cladding materials in place, and work will need to be undertaken to make the buildings as safe as possible.
The immediate options available to us for some blocks included the implementation of a new fire strategy or the installation of new wireless smoke or heat detection systems. We began this programme of installation in September 2021.
The second part of the surveying process will include carrying out more intrusive surveys of the block (internally). This will be within the communal areas and it is also common for a sample amount of flats to be surveyed as well. We do not have a date for when this survey will be carried out however when we do we will update this microsite with more information.
Whilst it is logical to measure from the top to the bottom of a building, buildings are measured in line with the building regulations.
Building regulations measure from the floor height of the top floor living space down to the lowest point the building meets the ground. This may be street level, or may include any below-ground living space or building area, such as a car park or storage level.
This diagram, from Building Regulations Approved Document B, shows how a building is measured for these purposes.
(Building Regulations Approved Document B, Volume 2, Diagram C6)
At this point in time, we do not have an EWS1 form for any building at Parkside. This will not be available until after the survey work and any required remedial work has been completed. Once the remedial work or mitigation is completed in your block, a B1 rated form will be awarded and send onto residents.
If you are looking to sell or remortgage now, hearing that work is being planned for many months into the future will not be the news you wanted to hear.
Under most circumstances, mortgage lenders are using a B1 EWS1 rating as the minimum that they will accept in order to be able to lend against a property. Not having this form does not mean that you won't be able to sell or remortgage, but, depending on your lender, you may find your range of available products is limited, and if you are looking to sell, you may need to seek a cash buyer.
RICS has been working with the government as this issue is preventing many people across the country from buying, selling, or remortgaging. RICS has issued further guidance, effective from 5 April, to try to provide greater clarity on the need for and use of EWS1 forms. This may mean your lender will not require an EWS1 form.
Guidance on this issue is constantly changing, and we are monitoring announcements to ensure that we are doing everything that is required to keep residents safe.
We would initially suggest you contact your lender in light of the new guidance to understand their requirements. Different lenders are likely to amend requirements at different times, and until Government guidance becomes legislation that lenders must legally follow, the situation will remain unclear. However, we will always do what is required to keep you safe.
At this stage, because the possibility of legal action is still open, we have been advised by our lawyers that we should not make the full report available. This is because allowing all of the information to become public knowledge could prejudice any legal action we pursue against a third party (any other body or organisation who could be held at fault for defects), and weaken the case that our legal advisors are progressing. Our lawyers are happy for us to release information from the report to residents, and we want to be transparent in doing that, but they have advised us not to release the full report. As soon as we are able to make this available to residents, we will.
Our project team is currently working with fire engineers and our designated Primary Fire Authority to establish what is required for each individual block. We will be contacting residents in each block in the coming weeks to advise on the situation, and let them know what the outlook is at that time.
This is a large-scale project, and is not one that will be completed quickly. We are estimating that to complete all of the required work, and bring all of the blocks to a B1 standard will take in excess of two years, although the work will be staggered, and some blocks will be completed earlier.
We will make every effort to move the project at pace, and give residents as much information as we can. We know it is frustrating, but as we enter into a period of planning work, it may take us a little time before we can give you exact timelines and costings. We will get you this information as soon as we can.
We are working with fire engineers and the fire service to look at the most appropriate options for keeping residents safe, and it may be that this could involve leaving the cladding material in place, at least for the time being.
Implementing the mitigation, such as additional alarm systems, will enable us to make the building as safe as possible while we fully assess the work that is required to the structure of the buildings. At this stage, we are taking expert advice on whether work to remove the material is required if the mitigation is in place. This advice will then drive the next stage of the project plan, involving making an informed decision which will allow us to keep residents safe while we look at the best options.
Section 20 (S20) is a clause in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 intended to protect leaseholders from paying unnecessarily large sums for work carried out to their building. It is the mechanism by which landlords consult with residents on the work that is required, and give residents the opportunity to comment, ask questions, and have their viewpoint on any proposals heard.
The Lease Advisory Service has provided a breakdown of how the process works and what residents can expect. This can be read here.
The letter that you have recently received is to advise you that the Group intends to carry out a potential combination of fire safety investigations at a number of its properties. It is not a bill, and is intended to show the maximum level of contribution that leaseholders could be asked for, depending on the level of survey work at their home. The figures quoted make the assumption that the maximum level of survey work will be required, and that the lease terms for a property block mean that any work is recharged in the least favourable way. and is averaged out across all properties in the programme. However, each property will get a separate confirmed figure for their home, taking into account the level of survey work required, and the leaseholder' individual lease terms.
As our Building Safety Programme moves forward, we will keep in contact with all Parkside residents to advise them of what they can expect. We will regularly update this microsite with new information and documents as they become available.
For some blocks, we have been advised that an EWS1 form at a B1 rating will soon be available, and we are working with our fire assessors to get this to the relevant residents as quickly as possible.
Where work will be required, we will be contacting residents in individual blocks to advise them of the next steps, and what action will need to be taken. As soon as we have confirmed information on costs and timelines, we will let residents know. We will also update residents as soon as we have any information regarding a potential legal claim.
Residents may be aware of statements made by the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP on 9 January 2022 regarding his proposed plans to enforce “polluter pays” legislation to ensure that developers pay for the removal of cladding material and fixing of defects on buildings of 11-18 metres in height.
Once details of any available funding for lower-rise buildings are confirmed, we will ensure that all appropriate applications are made to any funds that become available, and will update residents in individual buildings in due course.
Your safety is our first priority. As a matter of principle we want to assure you that questions about how building safety remedial work is funded never stand in the way of us getting that work done.
However the costs of any work required do need to be funded from somewhere. We will do all we can to protect leaseholders from these costs by seeking to recover these from those responsible for any building defects or from the government if this is possible.
We will investigate the potential to claim these costs from a third party, where this is available.
We are a charitable housing association and the way we are run and how we spend our money is regulated by the government. What this means in practice is that if we cannot find an alternative source of reimbursement for the costs of the remedial work then we have no choice but to seek to recover costs under the terms of your leases. This is because the way we spend our money is subject to strict rules and we are not permitted to write off these costs if there is a alternative option. This is never our preferred way forward and we understand that this may be concerning for leaseholders. We hope that this will not be necessary but it would be wrong not to be clear about the possibility at this stage.
Southern Housing Group will be covering costs for the share of works accrued by what is known as “General Needs” properties at Parkside. General Needs refers to properties that are rented by tenants under social, intermediate, or market rental terms.
The way that any contribution is calculated is laid out in your individual lease terms, and is usually on the same basis as the way your service charge is calculated. We would recommend becoming familiar with your lease terms so you are clear what your contributions could be.
Usually, lease terms would state that shared owners and 100% leaseholders in the same building would have the same level of contribution, regardless of the percentage owned.
We'll be updating these pages whenever there is new information.