Leaseholders of flats in the Cardinal Lofts building have had their service charges and ground rents for the year refunded, it has emerged.

Residents living in the Ipswich Waterfront flats complex were evacuated from their homes earlier this year due to defects in the property – including cladding issues.

But Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has called for "swift" action to be taken so the leaseholders can return to their homes.

All flats at Cardinal Lofts were evacuated in February this year after the building was deemed "no longer safe for occupation", several months after the top floors were vacated due to fire risk concerns.

Freeholder Grey GR said it had sourced accommodation for residents while work to fix the issues were resolved.

But months later, the safety concerns have not been addressed and the leaseholders still cannot return home.

Elsewhere in Ipswich, Churchmans House near Portman Road has been made subject to a 24-hour 'waking watch' due to fire safety concerns.

Nearby St Francis Tower has also been a long-running concern due to cladding – the building has been covered in shrink wrap for more than two years – and was vacated in early July due to a leak.

Ipswich Star: Plastic wrap covering St Francis Tower in IpswichPlastic wrap covering St Francis Tower in Ipswich (Image: CHARLOTTE BOND)

Back in 2013, The Mill block on the Waterfront was found to have dangerous cladding.

A spokesman for Grey GR confirmed leaseholders were being put up in alternative accommodation and their service charges and ground rents up to the end of 2023 had been refunded.

The spokesman added: "Grey GR remains committed to addressing building safety issues at Cardinal Lofts.

"Over the past six months, Grey has conducted extensive and intrusive investigations into the building to fully understand the scale of the issues.

"The remediation process is complex and the building safety issues we are seeing are far beyond the original cladding and external wall concerns.

"However, we recognise the need to provide residents with a clear resolution as quickly as possible and continue to evaluate all the available options.  

"While investigations are progressing, we have engaged regularly with leaseholders, conducting in person meetings and through regular written communication, to ensure they are kept updated with the latest developments and to seek their views on the different options throughout the process.

"While the Prohibition Notice remains in place, residents continue to be housed in alternative apartment accommodation, with costs covered by Grey. 

"This issue continues to be an understandably difficult situation for leaseholders and residents.

"We are committed to ensuring leaseholders and residents have safer homes as soon as possible, but will not rush that process to the detriment of ensuring long term safety.” 

Mr Hunt said: "The situation which residents of St Francis Tower, The Mill, Cardinal Lofts, Churchmans House and others in Ipswich are enduring – while their buildings undergo necessary remediation works – is very distressing.

Ipswich Star: Ipswich MP Tom HuntIpswich MP Tom Hunt (Image: Newsquest)

"I have consistently advocated in Parliament for my many constituents affected, such as through my 10 Minute Rule Bill calling for a Code of Practice for Cladding Remediation. I have visited many of these homes and seen first-hand the miserable and depressing conditions that the remediation works, and plastic shrink wrap leaves the residents in.

"I continue to liaise with occupants, responsible parties, and the local fire service to ensure residents are kept fully aware of the situation and that their safety remains the highest priority.

"These buildings have become a blight on the town. I remain determined to ensure that a permanent solution is found for these ongoing situations, where my constituent’s welfare is taken as the top priority.

"I will continue my dialogue with the responsible parties and fire service to ensure this priority is reinforced. As cladding remediation and urgent works take place, they must happen with minimal disruption and with clarity for those impacted.

"As with all of the affected buildings in Ipswich, the responsible parties must now take swift and decisive action, avoiding further unnecessary delay.

"I will continue to see that they do exactly that. Take responsibility."