London Fields tower block where bricks fell 100 feet faces a year of ‘major repairs’

Close call: bricks landed just feet from a nearby car. Photograph: Julian Blake

A council tower block in London Fields where “extensive corrosion” last year caused brickwork to crash to the street below faces at least another twelve months of disruption, according to the local residents’ group.

Decorative masonry fell 100 feet from the top of a tower at 1-46 Morland Estate last November and landed close to the entrance of a primary school – fortunately, no-one was hurt.

According to Morland Blanchard Tenants and Residents Association (MBTRA), the tower has been “shrouded in scaffolding” ever since.

Following a meeting with a council officer, MBTRA chair Julian Blake reported to members: “Residents living in Morland tower face the prospect of having their homes under scaffolding for another year, as Hackney Council contractors complete urgent major repairs to the brickwork facade of the block.

“The cost of the repairs is unconfirmed by the council as yet, but is likely to be significant, with leaseholders living in the tower set to be charged for their share of the works.”

Hackney Council told the Citizen that the costs are still to be confirmed, and that it is a standard legal obligation for leaseholders to contribute to repairs.

Blake said checks carried out on the tower had shown “extensive corrosion to the pins supporting the brickwork facade” – the council agrees this is an accurate description.

He added: “The same tests have also found that the overall structure of the 1960s block remains good, despite the weakness of the facade.”

A council officer told the TRA that repair work is likely to take nine to 10 months, but will not start for another two to three months to allow time for leaseholders to be consulted on the proposals.

A spokesperson for the Town Hall told the Citizen that residents will not have to move out during the work.

When asked if the council has any concerns about other buildings in the borough, the spokesperson revealed that repairs will be carried out at a block on the nearby Fields Estate “as a precaution”.

They said: “While the block is not in need of immediate repair, its construction means that the same issues could potentially occur in future.”

Lucky escape: bricks covered the road but nobody was hurt. Photograph: Julian Blake

When asked how corrosion at Morland Estate got so bad that bricks started falling off, the spokesperson said it was a “one-off”, and “not something the council could predict”.

“This was an isolated incident specific to the design and age of the individual building, and we carry out regular stock condition surveys and undertake day to day management of the 30,000 homes we own and manage to ensure they remain in good condition,” they added.

TRA chief Blake advised leaseholders in the tower to seek legal advice to make sure the cost of the work is “reasonable”, and whether it is covered by insurance.

He added: “Morland TRA will be in regular contact with the council to ensure the best possible communication with residents.

“We will also be working to help minimise disruption, and helping both tenants and leaseholders as we can.”

The Town Hall spokesperson said: “Immediately following the falling of decorative brickwork from a building at the Morland Estate we took steps to ensure the building was safe for residents, confirm that the structure of the building was not affected, and certify that none of our other properties could face similar issues.

“We will now be undertaking more extensive work to restore the brickwork and ensure it remains safe in the long term, and carrying out work on one other block which is of the same age and design purely as a precaution.

“We will keep residents informed as this progresses.”

For more information, or to stay posted on the works, please visit MBTRA’s Facebook page 

For independent housing advice, please contact Citizens Advice Hackney on 020 8525 6350

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