Residents of Ipswich's Cardinal Lofts flats block were taken by surprise as the property's freeholder revealed 17 additional issues within the building. 

The evacuated residents of a nine-storey tower at the Ipswich Waterfront received a letter from their freeholder, Grey GR, informing them of defects in their homes, which they were forced to leave a few months ago. 

During one of the weekly updates, the freeholder informed the residents about the issues that have been identified following several surveys on the building, including lack of external wall fire-breaks, non-compliant fire doors, balcony leaks, unprotected timber construction and no smoke ventilation to basement. 

Ipswich Star: Building concerns at Cardinal Lofts in Ipswich, Grey GRBuilding concerns at Cardinal Lofts in Ipswich, Grey GR (Image: Grey GR)

Cardinal Lofts resident and the founder of Ipswich Cladiators, Alex Dickin, said: "It’s the first time that we've seen this level of detail and description of the various issues at the building. 

Ipswich Star: Alex Dickin lives in Cardinal Lofts and is the founder of Ipswich Cladiators, Charlotte BondAlex Dickin lives in Cardinal Lofts and is the founder of Ipswich Cladiators, Charlotte Bond (Image: Charlotte Bond)

"We knew about the cladding on the outside of the building and other internal issues as we gained more information from the fire service when we met them a couple of months ago. 

"But this is the first time we’ve seen those issues laid out in this way, where we can clearly see the 17 different fire safety defects at the building. 

"All of those defects were present at the time that the building was constructed, so it's not as if over time these problems have occurred. These issues were there right from the start. 

"The scale and the number of the issues took us by surprise. 

"We knew that the situation was serious because we've been evacuated from our homes, and we still don't have a set time when we can return.  

"The vast number of issues that are present really shocked us." 

Mr Dickin added that the residents have welcomed the transparency from the freeholder.

A Grey GR spokesman said: “These concerns have been identified through our ongoing intrusive investigations conducted at the property, which is a necessary and crucial step prior to remedial works progressing.

"While they are not new issues, and were caused during the development of the building, we wanted to provide leaseholders with a clear outline of the different aspects we will be addressing throughout the property.

"The remediation process is complex but we continue to work towards ensuring residents are able to return to safer homes as quickly as possible.”

Ipswich Borough Council was also asked to comment on the case, as a council's area building control surveyor signed off the building as safe back in 2010.

Timeline of events:

November 15 - Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service issues a prohibition notice for three floors in Cardinal Lofts, covering 15 flats on floors seven to nine. A waking watch is put in place for the rest of the building

November 16 - Residents asked to leave said they feel left in the dark after being asked to evacuate their homes

November 16 - Ipswich MP Tom Hunt meets with minister for building safety Lee Rowley to make the government aware of what's going on following the evacuation

November 23 - Letter sent saying temporary accommodation will be set up for evacuated residents until January 2023

December 7 - Ipswich MP Tom Hunt meets residents at Cardinal Lofts three weeks on from the evacuation

December 17 - The partial evacuation of the flat complex is extended until January 2024

February 21 - Grey GR announces Cardinal Lofts is "no longer safe for occupation" following the results of several in-depth reports

February 22 - The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove has "instructed action" in a strong message to those involved in the Ipswich block

February 26 - Residents left 'angry' after 'threatening' prohibition letter

February 27 - Residents of eight flats are understood to have not yet evacauted Cardinal Lofts

March 2 – Grey GR said "it is crucial that residents understand the risk to their safety”

March 2 – Cardinal Lofts residents issue a letter of seven reasons why they do not want to evacuate from the building

March 9 – Cardinal Lofts residents fear over new flat offer

March 14 – Fire service issues second safety notice

March 15 – Residents have issued an ultimatum following further defects discovered at Cardinal Lofts

March 17 – Cardinal Lofts residents meet with fire service

March 18 – Frustrated Cardinal Lofts residents stage protest

March 21 – Grey GR responds to Cardinal Lofts protest campaign

March 21 – Cardinal Lofts residents' anger over flat access issue

April 20 – Cardinal Lofts residents seek a council tax payback

April 21 – Commonhold Now joins Cardinal Lofts in their battle