Exclusive: Camberwell residents live in fear of their home collapsing

Charles Harrison (10 November, 2021)

“We’re desperate. We’d move, but how can you sell a place with cracks like this?”

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A building redevelopment in Camberwell has rendered its neighbours terrified of their house collapsing after a wait of over 30 years to get the problem fixed.

Completed in 1990, the works on a building in Camberwell Grove, conducted by a company that has since been taken over by housing association Peabody, split the house into several flats.

However, the work was seemingly done without the specialist contractor necessary to perform work on a historical building, and the result is terrifying cracks emerging in the neighbour’s wall over the last 30 years. They are likely due to the weight of the new roof in the development.

The residents, who wish to remain anonymous, have been left in a “hellish” situation where they cannot sell their property due to the cracked walls, nor can they convince Peabody to deal with the situation, they say.

They live in fear after a building of a similar historical background collapsed in Chelsea this time last year, causing 40 people to be evacuated.

After hiring a private consultant, it was discovered that the cracks go right through to the bricks themselves.

Eventually the frustrated residents got MP for Camberwell and Peckham Harriet Harman involved in 2018, Peabody wrote a letter back in which they admitted responsibility for repairing the damage caused to the building. However, the association is yet to fix the problem.

“We did manage to arrange a meeting after Harriet got in touch, but then it just went blank. We heard nothing from them for ages, and now whenever we call, we have to explain the situation all over again.

“We’re desperate. We should be living in this beautiful house, but we can’t decorate properly because of the cracks. We can’t do anything until they’re sorted. We’d move, but how can you sell a place with cracks like this?”

Peabody, in their response to MP Harman said they had tried and failed to make further contact with the residents.

Meanwhile, the neighbour on the other side, ninety-year-old widower Jim Tanner, is now facing water leakage through the walls just a year after losing both his wife of fifty years and his son.

He woke up to find water all over his floor. Due to his old age, he is concerned for his health.

Camberwell Grove resident Jim Tanner

“I used to be an architect myself,” said Jim, “so I know what I’m talking about. This is coming from next door.”

A view from outside the building shows water damage where the two houses connect. Inside, there is visible damage to the walls.

The water damage is even visible from outside the house

“I don’t hear anything from Peabody,” said Jim. “I’ve written to them so many times.

“There’s a shelving unit right where the water is coming through. If it collapses on my bed, that’s me done.”

The water damage has provoked fears about a shelving unit falling

Jim is being forced to relocate his bed to a different room.

A Peabody spokesperson said of the cracks in the wall: “We have followed the recommendations of independent third-party surveyors and accepted their proposed schedule of works. We have been working hard to find an agreement and resolution to this and will continue to discuss the matter with the owners.”

Regarding the leak in the other property, they stated: “We have established that the leak is being caused by blockages and damage to the guttering of their own property, so they will be responsible for carrying out the repairs on their own home. We have shared the result of the drone survey which shows this, and we hope it will not be too long before the issue is resolved.”

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