£25k bills to replace flammable tower block cladding branded ‘enormous’ by MP in letter
PUBLISHED: 09:48 04 July 2020 | UPDATED: 09:58 04 July 2020
House of Commons
Spiralling costs to replace flammable cladding on Ipswich’s St Francis Tower have been brought to the attention of the housing minister by the town’s MP.
Tom Hunt described bills of £25,000 facing leaseholders of flats in the 16-storey building as “enormous” in a letter penned to secretary of state Robert Jenrick – adding that the payments are causing them a “great deal of distress”.
Cladding on St Francis Tower was recently described as being “more flammable even than Grenfell” in an ongoing court battle to decide who pays for the £3.6m repair costs.
It is hoped that resolution of this will eventually prevent leaseholders from having to pay.
MORE: Families left in tower block with ‘highly flammable’ cladding amid court row over who pays
The building, which contains 116 flats, is still covered in 45% of the original flammable cladding after work to remove it revealed huge gaps in the tower and problems with windows.
“When work on building structure and buildings’ exteriors goes wrong, as we have seen particularly in the cladding scandal, it is often leaseholders who are left to foot astronomical bills for replacement, remediation and repairs,” Mr Hunt wrote in his letter.
MORE: St Francis Tower – What we’ve learned about safety of tower block a year on
“Leaseholders at St Francis Tower in Ipswich, for instance, were told they had to foot an enormous bill of around £25,000 per flat to replace the highly combustible HPL cladding on the building, despite the fact they were not responsible for putting this cladding up in the first place.
“The prospect of this bill caused a high degree of distress among leaseholders, when they had already seen the value of their property fall considerably.”
WATCH: Flat owner ‘anxious’ over growing cost of tower cladding repairs
Flat prices in St Francis Tower have fallen to around £30,000-£40,000, which has meant some leaseholders owning two or more are facing repair bills higher than the current value of their properties.
Philip Maricic owns two flats in the tower and has been left with a £50,000 bill – he has previously expressed concern over rising costs.
Mr Hunt urged Mr Jenrick to put a system in place which gives leaseholders and freeholders clarity over whose responsibility it is to pay for repair work.
He also asked him to extend the government’s £1bn building safety fund, announced in the Budget, to ensure all buildings with flammable cladding can be fully repaired.
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