Basingstoke residents 'frustrated' as cladding work will leave them unable to use balconies

  • ITV Meridian's Derek Johnson has been speaking to residents in Basingstoke.

People living in an apartment block in Basingstoke where dangerous cladding is about to be replaced, say they're frustrated they won't have access to their balconies for up to 14 months.

The outside cladding at Crown Heights, which has about 250 flats, was found to be flammable and the original developer has agreed to fund the cost.

It's hoped repairs will begin by the end of the year but no date has been confirmed.

Some residents are unhappy at what they see as 'a long delay' - and about losing access to an outside communal area during the works.

Mr Kumar and his wife have lived in their flat for six months. Credit: ITV Meridian

Suresh Kumar has polio and has lived with his wife and two children in one of the flats a for around six months.

Although the windows to all the flats will be able to open partially during works, the doors to the balconies are to be sealed off - potentially for months, while the dangerous cladding is removed from the residential blocks"Terrible, as the balcony is a main ventilation source for us," Mr Kumar said.

"Our children used to go onto the balcony to enjoy the fresh breeze, and we came to this house, especially in Crown Heights, because of the balcony."Mr Kumar, who works from home is also frustrated that he will not be able to take his children outside to a communal area benches which is used by many as a play area, as when the works do take place, the space will be out of bounds while materials are stored there. 

And there are complaints about delays, and the decision to do the whole de-cladding operation in one go, taking  about 14 months. 

One of the balconies residents won't be able to access during the works Credit: ITV Meridian

Jean Fisher the chair of the residents' association said: "It's not being done with consideration for people's living conditions, no consideration for their physical and mental health, and no consideration for the children who live here.

"We definitely don't want it delayed. We definitely don't want the finish date delayed."Another resident, Shrikant Deshmane, said: "Work was supposed to start in September, then it is moved to October and November, and still we don't see a single stick moving here rather than just keep changing the plans.

"Obviously, it's frustrating. We can't plan anything for our future."

The outside communal area will be used to store materials during the works. Credit: ITV Meridian

Original developer Barratt Developments agreed to fund the de-cladding when it was discovered two years ago, that it contained flammable material.

The work will involve placing a wrapping around the block.

Ward councillor Arun Mummalaneni, who sits on Basingstoke council, is also unhappy."We want them to keep the cladding around to minimum," he said.

"The current schedule says the minimum is 13 to 14 months - that is not acceptable."

David Lawrence is Labour's parliamentary candidate in Basingstoke.

He said: "There needs to be compensation for those who are affected. I was just speaking to someone whose insurance premium has gone through the roof because of this.

"People are being financially affected. If there's more mould and damp in their flats, if they're having to buy a tumble dryer because they can't hang out the washing outside - all of that financial cost has to be compensated."

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A spokesperson for Barratt Developments said: “We are sorry for the impact on residents of the building works at Crown Heights, but we are doing all that we can to minimise disruption.

"These are important works to ensure the continued fire safety of the building, and are being paid for fully by Barratt.

"We will continue to work closely with all parties, making sure everyone is kept up to date with their progress through monthly residents’ meetings and working closely with the managing agents to listen to people’s views.”