Cladding replacement work on Ipswich Waterfront flats delayed until new year

Fire safety issues were uncovered at the Orwell Quay complex in Ipswich earlier this year

Cladding replacement work at Orwell Quay is due to take place in the new year. Inset, apartment buy-to-let leaseholder Terry Colthorpe and Ipswich MP Tom Hunt - Credit: TERRY COLTHORPE/ARCHANT

Work to replace "high-risk" Grenfell-style cladding at the Orwell Quay complex in Ipswich has been delayed until the new year. 

A recent letter to leaseholders at the complex, behind Aurora on the Waterfront, said the 10 to 12-month project was expected to get under way in January.  

However, managing agents EWS have now said there is no definite start date as yet because the funding is still being confirmed - following a successful appeal to the government’s Building Safety Fund.  

This newspaper’s investigations team revealed fire safety problems at the Orwell Quay complex - which includes flats at 1, 3, 5, and 7 Anchor Street alongside 51 Patteson Road - in June this year.

The blocks are due to be cloaked in netting-style material while the work is carried out.

Project consultants say the material is different from controversial vinyl wrapping,  used on St Francis Tower in the town centre, and will offer a “breathable solution” that lets in natural daylight.

Five Waterfront blocks, at the Orwell Quay development near Aurora, have been found to have cladding

Five Waterfront blocks, at the Orwell Quay development near Aurora, have been found to have cladding issues - Credit: ARCHANT

The work had been expected to start in late October, but the starting date has now been pushed back. A letter to leaseholders, seen by this newspaper, blamed winter weather. 

 Money from the Building Safety Fund (BSF) has now been awarded for some of the works, although only the taller blocks will benefit from this. 

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said the number of consultation respondents against a planned move of orthopaedi

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has visited Orwell Quay and raised the issue of cladding in the Commons - Credit: Archant

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt, who has repeatedly raised the issue of Ipswich's cladding in the Commons,  has recently visited Orwell Quay to look at the material and discuss the situation with residents.

He said: "The material being used is better than that used in St Francis Tower, but still not as good as it needs to be."

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Mr Hunt said it was important "to get these works carried out as soon as possible to make the buildings safe."

He said as well as the fire safety issue, there was a need to be sensitive to the effect the situation was having on people's well-being and mental health.

Terry Colthorpe owns a buy-to-let in 3 Anchor Street

Terry Colthorpe owns a buy-to-let in 3 Anchor Street - Credit: TERRY COLTHORPE

Terry Colthorpe, who owns a buy-to-let in 3 Anchor Street, said he was disappointed at the latest delay.

He said: "It just keeps dragging on. It's got to go out to tender which will take a while, so I can't really see that they're going to keep to the new time frames."

On the subject of costs, he added: "We are still in the dark as to what is going to be our eventual liability." 

Alex Dickin, spokesman for the Ipswich Cladiators campaign group,  said: "It's incredibly disappointing that it has been put back. This work is to make the buildings fire safe, and every month it is put back is another month that residents are living in an unsafe building. 

"There needs to be much more urgency about making our buildings safe."

Alex Dickin of the Ipswich Cladiators group, set up to fight cladding scandal of unsafe flats. Pict

Alex Dickin pictured in October at a rally for Ipswich Cladiators campaign group - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

Mr Dickin added: "People are having to put their lives on hold. We are unable to sell our properties, move up the property ladder and move on with our lives.

"There are young couples who want to move to a house and start a family. It's putting a strain on our mental health now."

James Goodwin, who owns an apartment in 7 Anchor Street, said: "We are having to pay inflated insurance bills. My own view is that the government should be having to pay for all the costs."

He said this should not just include the work of removing the combustible material, but also all the other costs, including insurance and lost rental income.

'Successful appeal decision from Building Safety Fund'

The blocks under 18m in the complex, 1, 3 and 5 Anchor Street, have no government support. Tenders for these are being submitted to developers Persimmon in the hope works will be fully-funded. 

 The other two blocks, 7 Anchor Street and 51 Patteson Road, are above 18m and therefore qualify for Government funding for cladding replacement. 

 A spokesperson for EWS said: “EWS manages the Orwell Quay development on behalf of our client, Orwell Quay (Ipswich) Management Company Ltd (“OQMC”).  

“This company is owned and controlled by the property owners at the development and is responsible for maintaining the site. The safety of leaseholders and residents at Orwell Quay is paramount to EWS.  

“EWS have been working closely with, and advising the directors of, OQMC following investigations into the cladding at the development which identified deficiencies. We have been in communication with the freeholder, Homes England (administrators for the Government’s Building Safety Fund) and working constructively with the original developer Persimmon Homes to help secure funding for the remediation work required. 

 “EWS have now received a successful appeal decision from the Building Safety Fund and await the grant funding agreement from Homes England which will detail the exact amounts awarded before we can instruct the principal contractor.  

“The only ineligible aspect is in relation to the terracotta rainscreen which requires cavity barrier remedial works. EWS are working with Persimmon Homes in relation to the cost of the ineligible works to ensure the project is fully funded. Our client cannot finalise the contract for the work, and therefore agree a start date, until funding is confirmed by Homes England”. 

A spokesperson for Persimmon Homes said: “We continue to work closely with managing agents EWS, who are overseeing these works at Orwell Quay. 

 “Persimmon’s commitment to leaseholders remains that in cases such as this they should not pay for any of the work necessary to remove cladding and ensure residents’ safety. 

 “We will continue to work with EWS to make sure that is the case.”  

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