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Call to review contracts after concerns over Barking & Dagenham new builds

There are calls for Sadiq Khan to investigate safety issues in any housing schemes in Barking and Dagenham

The Mayor of London is being called on to review contracts with Barking and Dagenham Council following safety concerns at a new build scheme.

Concerns over safety issues at the Gascoigne Estate prompted a motion by The London Assembly – an elected body who hold the Mayor to account when needed.

Residents were left in dismay after a balcony partly collapsed on one of the apartments in Weavers Quarter last November.

The Assembly is now calling on Sadiq Khan to investigate safety issues in any housing schemes within the borough that are in receipt of Greater London Authority (GLA) Funding.

The Assembly Chair, Andrew Boff AM said: “Over the past few months, we’ve had quite a few examples where the quality of builds in Barking and Dagenham, especially in the Gascoigne Estate in Barking, has proved to be less than satisfactory. We had an incident where a balcony collapsed last year back in November. Residents had been complaining about the quality of these balconies for two years but were being constantly ignored by the local authority who manage some of the properties. What’s now happened is that 414 properties are now considered unsafe and they now have to spend money on repairing those.”

The developing agent for Weavers Quarter was the housing association L&Q and the constructor was Bouygues who on 20 November 2023, announced that they’re to “urgently carry out checks and conduct any remedial works required, as part of their 12-year guarantee with L&Q.”

Chair Andrew Boff proposed the motion which was agreed unanimously by The London Assembly.

“One of the reasons I called for this is that there’s just been too many instances of poor quality build and really very unimaginative builds aswell.

“The Assembly has asked the Mayor to review past and existing contracts with Barking & Dagenham Council in light of the safety issues affecting new private sector developments in that area.

“The Assembly has also asked the Mayor to investigate safety issues in any housing schemes that are in Barking and Dagenham that are in receipt of GLA funding.”

The full text of the amended motion is: “Due to the safety issues related to new build by private sector developers in Barking & Dagenham the Assembly calls on the Mayor to urgently review its past and existing contracts with that Council.

“The Assembly calls upon the Government to give local authorities the necessary powers to intervene and compel private sector developers to address defects in newly built housing.

“The Mayor should also investigate safety issues in any housing schemes that are in Barking and Dagenham that are in receipt of GLA funding.”

A Barking and Dagenham Council spokesperson pointed out “that L&Q has the legal responsibility to raise concerns about the construction quality and faults with Bouygues, not the council or any of its subsidiary companies.”

Central government officials from DLUHC visited the council in December and the Council said “they left satisfied with their approach.”

In a statement, a Barking and Dagenham Council spokesperson said: “Barking and Dagenham is proud of its social housing record and around one in five of all London’s social housing has been built in the borough over the past five years.

“We welcome any scrutiny of our approach to regeneration and are confident other councils could learn from our experience.

“We also welcome the London Assembly’s call for central government to give councils the power to intervene and force private sector constructors to correct any structural defects on newly built housing, as these powers currently rest exclusively with the developing agents.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “It is vital that all building owners regularly take steps to review their properties for structural issues to ensure the safety of residents.

“The mayor’s team has met with residents of the estate and is in regular contact with Barking and Dagenham Council to monitor progress and ensure these issues are resolved rapidly.”

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