Tenants have been forced to leave two of the first homes built by a Greenwich Council-backed housing company because of structural problems, 853 can reveal.
Workers are on site at Jack’s Acre, off Rochester Way in Eltham, after householders found water and damp were getting into their homes, which were completed in 2019.
Patio doors have been removed on one of the homes on Forster Road, leaving its upper floor protected by plastic sheeting. Workers were on site last week.
One local councillor said that local residents had warned that the ground at Jack’s Acre, which was built on the site of a former council-owned social club, was wet. It is close to the buried Lower Kid Brook river, which rises close to Eltham Common and flows through to Sutcliffe Park.
More housing is planned nearby on the next-door Brook Estate, where Greenwich Council is building 80 homes on what was green space as part of its Greenwich Builds programme. Residents there have also raised the issue of the buried river.
Greenwich funded the Jack’s Acre homes through Meridian Home Start, which offers rented homes for those who would not be prioritised for normal council housing. Typical rents on a Meridian home are about 65 per cent of market rates; a new Greenwich Builds home is offered at about 50 per cent.
Jack’s Acre, which has 29 homes, the first Meridian development to be finished. Designed by Peter Barber Architects, which has worked on a number of projects for both Meridian and the council, it was shortlisted for a 2020 New London Architecture award.
Two more Meridian developments have followed since, both in Charlton: 33 homes at Sandpit Place, close to the Maryon Road Estate, and Woodmore Mews, behind Charlton Village.
Work is well under way on a fourth scheme of 35 homes at Carnbrook Road, Kidbrooke, a few hundred metres from Jack’s Acre, while late last year it applied for planning permission to build 70 homes in a nine-storey block opposite Falconwood station.
Many London councils have set up spin-off companies to build housing, including Greenwich’s Conservative neighbours in Bexley. In Croydon, the town hall-owned developer Brick By Brick effectively bankrupted the council.
But unlike Bexley and Croydon, where the companies have been building private homes, Meridian Home Start has been made independent of the council and concentrates solely on rented homes.
Spencer Drury, a Conservative councillor for Eltham North, said he was concerned that the council was not monitoring Meridian’s work properly.
“Meridian Home Start is a good idea and needs to focus on providing family homes for hard-working Greenwich residents,” he said.
“I actually quite like the design here, but I know from working with the members of Rochester Way Club, which was demolished to make way for Jack’s Acre, that they felt this patch of ground was really wet so I wonder whether this has contributed to the damp problems in these properties.
“There were similar comments about flooding on the Kidbrooke site that Greenwich Builds are using, so I hope any problems are properly anticipated.
“Where things have gone wrong the council needs to be informed given its close working relationship with and funds invested in Meridian Home Start – hiding these sorts of failings is a real issue.”
Meridian Home Start said: “After careful consideration It was decided to gain vacant possession of two adjoining properties to carry out intrusive and disruptive investigations in order to remedy these defects comprehensively and conclusively.
“Meridian is working closely with the original contractor and a team of technical experts. Investigations are ongoing but nearing conclusion.
“The tenants of these properties have been moved to other new Meridian properties within the borough on a temporary basis whilst these works are undertaken. When the investigations and remedial works are complete, the tenants will return to their properties. Meridian is totally committed to resolving the issues and testing the effectiveness of these repairs before the tenants return to their properties.
“As part of investigations, Meridian will carry out a comprehensive inspection of all the houses on the estate to ascertain if there are any common defects, and with the contractor, will resolve any issues that might arise from those surveys. Meridian are in the process of updating residents on these matters.”
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