For many years I have written about the problems at Islington Wharf. Part of the reason for writing about these flats is to force some change in my way, while others try other things. A lot of people don’t like its all out there for all to read but franklyits been out there for over a decade. The most important thing is to get the latent defects fixed to the comfort of all the people like myself who bought or are renting. Its been way too long!
Waterside places came to the Islington Wharf committee with a proposal after the last one with Laing O’Rourke which was awful didn’t pass. It took some time but after the meeting in April, we were all ecstatic. The next day a email was to everybody
In short all the work which was planned with Laing O’Rourke would go ahead but with Morgan Sindall Construction. They will not use the garden as their workers yard instead use part of the old central retail park and phase 4 space, which is next door. They will do all the latent defect work in 18months instead of 2 years and the best part is they are going to replace all the glass, not stick a film to the outside. The cost of this all to the residents? Zero! Yes no cost. Lets be frank Islington Wharf has a ton of glass, so this is no cheap operation but was always needed. It would likely be easier if done years ago because now phase 2 & 3 makes access much more tricky.
Now you can see why we were ecstatic! This is a massive win and I find myself very fortune I am in the position where this is a option when so many flat owners are having to pay to replace their cladding.
The next part is to get agreement from all the flat owners they will allow access. As you can imagine with support from the committee and mailshots, emails, fb, etc. We have pretty much everybody in agreement. Although some haven’t replied back, likely forcing Waterside places to consider legal action to gain access.
This is most likely the last summer of heat (hopefully), which would be great as I’m experiencing 28c heat while working at home and its 24c outside.
Once things get going, I’ll start updating the older blogs as I do get the occasional press attention, which was the point of writing.
I was prompted to wrote this blog just after being interviewed by the Times journalist Emanuele. I had meant to write it for a long while but being interviewed pushed me to do, mainly to set the record straight and give a fair update of where we are now. I see the article went live in the Sunday Times thanks to a friend’s mum.
It's #NotJustCladding that affects millions of new build home owners across the country, it's excessive heat and the consequences that stem from decades of shoddy & cheap building work.
It seems there was a lot of support for the latent defect work but not enough to make it so. Although the actual figures don’t seem to add up or they were looking for 100% of residents to get in touch?
As you can imagine this has caused a lot of distressed. I made my position clear.
I said No to access to my flat before I got the answers back from Waterside places. They had planned to use the shared garden as workers yard for 2 years. Because of that I stuck to the original date sent off my reply 5 days before the original deadline to make sure its was registered.
Waterside places did push the deadline back and I engaged with them over email saying I will change my vote to yes if they can insure garden access throughout the 2 years. They never confirmed this over the multiple emails and because of this I had no real choice.
I had a lot of problems with the whole thing but Waterside places never made clear the garden position. The committee also made clear that if they could confirm the garden, most residents would change their position.
The engagement with the residents I feel has been mishandled (maybe deliberately?). The options on the table were poor then follow ups have been slow and brief.
Of course I do honestly feel for all the flats which are heavily affected by the latent defects. Its awful news, but something else will happen as the latent defects are clearly there and the court case with Laing o’rourke did end in a settlement. Still love to know how much?
So a little update, we received a letter about securing a different location for the builders yard. Originally Waterside Places was planning to take over our garden for 2+ years but I gather the council stepped in and they found another site. Where exactly isn’t very clear, like a lot of the comms from Waterside places.
So with this there has been a lot of talk about the alternative, would releasing Laing O’Rourke of their obligation be the worst idea? Each person has different views on this all. To be fair now the garden is off the table I feel slightly better about things. Although its not super clear (I have asked directly this question).
I am writing to you today to advise you that following further development of the design for High Speed Two (HS2) Limited, some or all of your land and/or property may be required in order to build and operate the railway for the Western Leg of HS2 Phase 2b.
Its a proposal and its not clear how much of Islington Wharf will be affected as I thought the inner ring road and Ashton canal would be problem if they wanted to expand Piccadilly Station. On top of this, there is a lot of land around Piccadilly Station currently the Red light zone or Piccadilly East if you been watching Manctopia. Between Fairfield Street, Chapeltown Street and Great Ancoats Street theres quite a bit of room and a lot of it is made up of old commercial places. Places which would be cheaper to move and are generally not that occupied either.
Its a interesting dimension on top of the saga with Waterside places. Wonder if they were even aware of the HS2 change?
The form will give the go ahead with their poorly thought-out plans to take over the garden for 2+ years, have access to our flats and much more.
Here is the letter I got in my postbox, its part of about 9 pages. But most of it is the times of when flats are scheduled.
Note a few things, the date of the letter is 10th August but they want a reply by the 21st August. Imagine if you are renter, and having to contact your landlord who may not even be in the same country or its all done via a 3rd party like a agent. This could take a long time and who knows what happens if the landlord wants one thing and the renters want the opposite?
There is the minimal of actual detailed information on what will happen. For example what if we have a 2nd Covid19 lockdown, how much noise could result of the work, would we have to lock our things away, etc, etc, etc…. They have requested access to my flat for 4 months next year but its not clear exactly what will happen except this outline. No deadlines or real details.
On top of this our many questions haven’t been answered. For example the sample window in the garden Waterside places admit isn’t right and they promised to replace it with a new sample. Of course this hasn’t happened. The effectiveness of the actual film is questionable, let alone if it doesn’t peel or scratch when the window cleaners come to clean the windows.
Theres also a real concern that the film is so dark that looking through it at night will be like pretty much block out the view, especially at night when you have internal lights on. The right thing to do would be to trial it in someones flat (committee members have offered) and then people could really make a decision (they blame Covid19 for not doing this) However we have to make a rushed decision based on information we don’t actually have access to, which will affect not only the next 2+ years, our health (imagine living on a building site for 2+ years), our security, our privacy, flat prices, etc.
I don’t write this lightly and been writing it over the last week or so. I recognise I’m privileged owning a place in Manchester with a full time job but this needs talking about. I also get it will have an effect on housing prices in Islington Wharf but to be honest I’m so sick and tried of the way residents are being treated. Its clear from the amount of times residents have been lied to, this is most likely going to play out in the media. Even our MP (Lucy Powell) being involved hasn’t had the same effect as media attention. Its clear Waterside places like most companies don’t like media attention, especially when they have phase 4 on the line…
Imagine you live in a lovely flat in the centre of Manchester. Overlooking east Manchester and phases 2 and the new phases 3. great but like all modern flats there are problem. However the problems are not just problems but actually latent defects.
The lovely floor to ceiling glass walls on 2 sides are heating up the flat to such an extend that during the winter months there is no need for heating; but on the other hand during the summer months turning the flat into a oven with temperatures inside +2-5c on the ambient temperature outside. As its a modern flat, you imagine some air-conditioning, nice large windows, etc…
Lets talk about the heat
One window per room with a opening distance of about 7-9cms with the safety locks on and 40cms with locks off. Enough you can jump out, which of course is not recommended at 20 stories high. There is a thing called a Airvac which circulates the air around the flat but its very loud and if you are circulating hot air around its not great. Note as there is only one window per room, the only way you can have a proper draft is opening all the doors and windows.
The heat is painful but to be honest I can tolerant it to a certain extent because I face north east from the the sun rises on my flat and before it gets to midday its already gone. This of course doesn’t make much difference when the ambient temperature is high of course. Which is a general latent defect, as anyone can tell you having walked in Islington Wharf’s corridors which has the hot water pipes running along the celling of each one.
As mentioned I am actually doing well because of the position of my flat. Others including neighbours have to put up with +2-5c on top of mine. For example if its 25c outside, it could be closer to 28c in my flat, while my neighbours could be dealing with closer to 32c in their flat!
I have 4 fans in my flat and always have to take off the safety locks to circulate enough air with all the inner doors open. Having the garden is a thankful refuge from the heat. They offered us aircon units as a kind of acknowledgement of the problem with heat but as you can see previously they were the size of washing machines and suited to industry not a 2 bed room flat. You should hear it going!
The temperature modelling/algorithm (we have many) was made for people not working from home during the day (certainly not built for covid19). It was also setup for a professional different couple with no children. Although Islington Wharf has apartments ranging from 1 bedroom to 4 bedrooms duplex’s! Talk about bad data!
Its also clear the problem lies with the incredible floor to ceiling glass panes. Those apartments without the glass don’t have such a heat problem. We have found the glass seems to be different if replaced from all the shattering we have had (there has been too many, more than average). We have also noted some of the glass as been installed backwards (the kite-mark is different in different flats)
What about the water?
I said I am lucky, and I really mean it. Another latent defect is water ingress. In short there is water leaking from all over the buildings. There was a point recently when there was so much water leaking down the emergency staircase it was leaking into the lobby (wish I took a picture).
Others experience drips of water from there windows and there are many cases when it rains (and it does it Manchester a lot). There is water coming down the walls causing damp and unliveable conditions (aka they have had to put up plastic tarpaulin to separate the living space from the wall and in the end been rehoused.
I personally have seen spots of dry water droplets by the window but never experienced anything like the pictures I have seen from others. Theres a video of a patio with the paving stones pulled up and the rain water just gathering there. As you can imagine, most of the time the water leaks down into levels below.
The building isn’t just leaking, its flooding in parts every time there is rain. Its clear the building wasn’t constructed in a way to handle rain as this has been happening from day one.
The M.E.N. reported how Waterside Places had had to evacuate all the residents in its brand new Islington Wharf Mews developments earlier this year after the homes were found to breach fire safety regulations.
Residents at Islington Wharf, in New Islington, have been engaged in an ongoing battle to get their windows replaced after temperatures repeatedly soared in the summer months. At one stage they had threatened legal action.
Currently the window from which the pane fell in August is still boarded up and Waterside has handed out air conditioning units to the affected apartments.
What about insurance? Let me tell you about insurance!
There is serious thoughts about putting together a court case on this front but raising the money to start the case is a big problem
Where do we go from here?
After 10+ years of fighting with Waterside places about the latent defects, they sued the builders Laing O’Rourke, for some unknown amount of money. Now with some unknown amount of money and a judgement call Waterside places has to fix the residents problem (their term not ours) and Laing O’Rourke will be re-doing the work.
This should be great news but of course they are doing it in the cheapest way possible and ignoring the fact we have been fighting them about these latent defects for 10+ years. They actually feel like the savours not the problem.
However they are doing it in the cheapest way they can… in short
They plan to put a UV film on the outer side of all the windows including mine.
They plan to convert all the windows which open into 2 windows which open. For example my one window pane in the living room will be replaced with two windows one on top of the other which can be independently opened
I can’t get a straight answer out of them about what exactly they will be doing in my flat personally. I’m assuming not much compared to others.
Sounds reasonable right?
Lets add all the things you would expect.
There will be zero compensation!
This will take over 2 years and we will be expected to live in the building/site, no moving out temporally
On top of the previous one, we will be expected to share our key with Laing O’Rourke. No clarification of when and how long for.
Laing O’Rourke will turn our communal garden into their workers yard for 2+ years, meaning no garden access. Waterside places don’t want to use the site for phase 4, which was also used for phase 3 (Islington Wharf locks) because they have planning permission and don’t want anything holding up phase 4. So they are passing their lack of action on the latent defects upon us.
Oh and this all starts in the next couple of months!
With all that would you sign a contact allowing this to happen?
Didn’t think so…
I posed the question of not signing and they (Waterside places) was taken a back like why wouldn’t you sign it? After a while of that awkward silence on the Microsoft Teams conference call (don’t get me started about this), they have no idea what to say. Except there is a clause in our tenancy agreement giving them access in certain circumstances.
As mentioned at the start, this is on going and looking forward, I can only see going public as the way not to be steam rolled into a position which suits them and their budget but will end up massively inconveniencing residents for 2+ years. I’m sure other residents will write their experiences, I’ll be urging them to do it in the public rather than on facebook.