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Note for David Graves re Concrete repairs, window replacement and repainting CWH

Hello David

I've been reading with interest the discussion about GAH.  I have a flat in CWH, and although I know that it is planned to replace the entire concrete structures of the balustrades and the concrete window boxes and shelves, it is not at all clear to me when this is likely to take place.  Detailed information to affected residents from the Corporation is lacking.  I hope we are not going to be subject to the Christo treatment for years on end (which is often the Corporation's way - I remember the endless 'repairs' to the front elevation many years ago involving scaffolding covering up the front window for months on end).  Can you advise when we might have news or at least some more detailed info?

I also understand that at the same time as the concrete repairs it is planned to replace the windows, although again I don't know what this entails or the proposed timeline.  I hope it means double glazing for the large windows in the main room, and for the north facing kitchen window (comments about not doing these in GAH worries me).  Are you able to shed any light on this?

Also, I would appreciate any info on when the external redecoration is planned (it seems to keep being put off) as it is in a terrible state (see photos).  I have asked for info on this but none so far.  Given this is a Grade II listed estate I don't believe the Corporation has been meeting its obligations in keeping it in good repair.  The state of it is embarrassing frankly.

I'd be grateful for any information you can find out and share.

Thanks

Jean.

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Dear Jean,

On the concrete aspect as I understand it a process of testing and evaluation is under way (as it has been on the Barbican Estate) and so far no conclusions have been expressed in terms of what work needs to be done. The situation regarding the windows in terms of how far behind the times these lag has registered, and my understanding is that there will be an evaluation process to decide about gradual upgrading of the current windows. I would imagine that there is a regular (eg 5 or 7 year) cyclical maintenance programme to address the cosmetic issues shown in your photographs - but if there are major works to be done in the vicinity there may be merit in phasing these to fit in with those works.

As you are a a resident of the Estate, I would be interested to know what you have been told about all this so far - you say that information has been lacking, but have you been given any "official" information about what is in prospect? I suspect the detail has not yet gelled, so there may so far be very little that is "concrete" to pass on in terms of detail, but I think there should be intentions and a direction of travel that could usefully be passed on so there is some understanding as to what is being examined and what the potential outcomes may be. 

I am happy to ask officers whether there is more detail to offer than I can give above , so I will update this reply when I have the view of officers. 

Best wishes,

David.

  

Many thanks for your reply David.

Concrete testing has been completed already at CWH.  The last communication I received from the Corporation was dated 28th August, setting out outline plans to undertake concrete repairs to CWH, and at the same time to undertake roof repairs and window renewals (or window replacement, depending on which paragraph in the letter one reads).  This letter was the formal notification of the start of the required 30 day consultation with leaseholders, which expired on 29th September.  Nothing since then.

However, on reading the Corporation's planning application on its own site (notification of which was displayed in the lift lobby c.10th October) it is, apparently, now the intention to completely replace all the concrete balustrades on the north elevation and all the concrete planters and shelf/pot-holders on the south elevation.  It makes no mention of how the replacement windows are to be treated.  Thus it seems a decision has been made, subject to agreement by the Secretary of State.  I would have thought the Corporation could have notified affected residents of this intention, given the likely large service charge levied for such works, as well as the potential disruption to our lives.

In relation to the external decoration, this has been deferred from previous years - I don't know why.  But as you can see from the photographs it is in a wholly unacceptable state.  (If estates start to look uncared for vandalism escalates.  We have seen recent examples of this with small fires in the recycling area and general misuse of common parts - the 'Broken Windows' theory.)  A cost for external/internal repairs and redecorating appears on the actual service charge itemisation for 2013/14 but the accompanying letter states this is carried forward to 2014/15.  It also lists lift refurbishment, and door entry replacement also deferred to 2014/15.  One hopes the external redecoration is not undertaken in the depths of winter as this will surely mean any repainting will not last the necessary 5-7 years - it will start peeling again within the year.

If you can ascertain any more detail from the Corporation that would be useful.  A timeline and projected costs would be very useful.  Thanks again for your help in these matters.

Jean.

David Graves (your Alderman) said:

Dear Jean,

On the concrete aspect as I understand it a process of testing and evaluation is under way (as it has been on the Barbican Estate) and so far no conclusions have been expressed in terms of what work needs to be done. The situation regarding the windows in terms of how far behind the times these lag has registered, and my understanding is that there will be an evaluation process to decide about gradual upgrading of the current windows. I would imagine that there is a regular (eg 5 or 7 year) cyclical maintenance programme to address the cosmetic issues shown in your photographs - but if there are major works to be done in the vicinity there may be merit in phasing these to fit in with those works.

As you are a a resident of the Estate, I would be interested to know what you have been told about all this so far - you say that information has been lacking, but have you been given any "official" information about what is in prospect? I suspect the detail has not yet gelled, so there may so far be very little that is "concrete" to pass on in terms of detail, but I think there should be intentions and a direction of travel that could usefully be passed on so there is some understanding as to what is being examined and what the potential outcomes may be. 

I am happy to ask officers whether there is more detail to offer than I can give above , so I will update this reply when I have the view of officers. 

Best wishes,

David.

  

Dear Jean,

Thank you for the additional information - it seems odd to me if all the works (assuming they are necessary or at least reasonable) have ended up being bunched up - I agree with clearing a backlog of work especially because as you say it is not good for an Estate to look neglected, but for all of this to be done in one service charge year could be horrendously expensive for the service charges, and some items may not be as urgent as others. I assume that there are condition surveys that substantiate the need to carry out the works - some may be self-evident, eg the redec works, but you are entitled to see the technical justification for the extent of the concrete works and regarding the lift works. 

I shall as promised ask Officers to address these points and those you raise. 

I completely agree about not doing external redecs during the Winter weather period, this used to happen on the Barbican because it always took so long to go from planning the works to starting the works on site, but I think Officers received enough stick about that for them to have now learned how to prevent this from happening simply by starting the preparatory stages early enough to phase the works properly and take advantage of Summer/early Autumn period for the repainting. 

I entered into a discussion with the estate office in 2013 about the redecorations which resulted in them telling me that in effect there would be 20 years between redecorations. I live in Hatfield House and certainly the outside of the balconies have not been painted in twelve years.

It is generally recoended y paint manufacturers that repainting takes place every seven years.

You are right Tim.  There has been no painting for at least that length of time.  I'm in Crescent House, and it looks awful.  

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