MP Harriet Harman steps in to help residents in six-year-old Wandle flats set for demolition

Owen Sheppard (26 May, 2016) Housing

Solomon's Passage mum says the ball is now in Wandle's court to respond to their requests

9598Solomon's Passage residents with MP Harriet Harman

Residents of the 85 Peckham flats, to be demolished or renovated six years after they were built, are being backed by MP Harriet Harman as they negotiate with Wandle Housing Association.

The News reported on May 12 that subsidence and persistent flooding had been discovered in the four blocks in Solomon’s Passage, meaning two of the buildings will have to be demolished and rebuilt.

The MP for Camberwell and Peckham met on Friday with a dozen tenants and leaseholders, and joined them on Monday in Parliament when residents met with Wandle’s chief executive Tracey Lees to discuss their needs.

Residents were given the “shocking” news on April 25, following inspections by independent fire experts Building Research Establishment and construction company Keegans Ltd. Following Keegan’s advice, Wandle announced plans to to demolish blocks 42 and 44 after blocks 40 and 46 are refurbished.

Several residents told the News they reported problems related to the basement car park flooding in 2011, as well as problems with mold, damp and cockroaches.

The News has also learnt that some of the affected families in Solomon’s Passage came to the site after being moved from the Heygate Estate. Other tenants living in the blocks were people who had to be evacuated from the 2009 Craisbrooke Gardens fire, which destroyed more than 50 flats.

Now residents face an ongoing battle to secure compensation, while Wandle continues to demand full rent and service charges. The association confirmed residents have so far been offered a “disturbance allowance” of up to £3,000 for moving costs, while those who have to permanently move will be entitled to a £5,300 “home-loss payment”.

One resident, who asked to remain anonymous, told the News that Monday’s meeting was “mostly positive” and that the association’s CEO had been “receptive” and “responded well” to residents’ ideas.

The resident said: “The ball is in Wandle’s court now. We have given them 20 working days to respond to their demands before negotiations continue.”

But ahead of Monday’s meeting, Sam Thompson, 32, a shared-owner in Block 40 with a nine-month-old son old, said: “Because of the history with Wandle I don’t have any trust in them. I’m not convinced we will get any results but I would like to hope that we do. I don’t want to move out of my flat, but I know we will have to. I’m not prepared to move out of Southwark, I want to stay in the area. It means I’ve got to find a nursery and work out how I’ll travel to work. I have my family and friends and this whole community here.”

Speaking after the meeting on Friday, Ms Harman told the News: “I am shocked at what has happened here. The situation that people living here have lost their peace of mind and now their homes is heart breaking.”

The MP also offered to help the residents with ongoing negotiations. She recommended that Wandle should allow a resident to join the association’s board; to set up a tenants and residents association; and to ask Wandle to pay for an independent mediator throughout their discussions.

Tracey Lees, Chief Executive of Wandle, said: “It was very valuable to meet Solomon’s Passage residents on Monday and hearing their feedback in person has helped us acknowledge their concerns. We remain committed to working with them to find long-term solutions at Solomon’s Passage.”

Last week the News reported that the four blocks of flats were built by Green Acre Homes (South East) Ltd, who were dissolved as recently as May 3, and put into administration in 2011.

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