Residents seek clarity from council over tower block repairs

‘Shrouded’: Morland Estate has been covered in scaffolding since November 2017.

Residents of a council tower block whose brickwork crumbled into the street last year have asked for more transparency from the council over the block’s prior upkeep.

Members of the Morland Blanchard Tenants and Residents Association (MBTRA) asked for clarity from Hackney Council capital works delivery officers in the wake of an 8 August meeting called to update residents on the progress of repairs.

It is unclear at this stage what the cost of the repairs to the tower’s leaseholders, as well as to the council’s tenants, will be.

The Citizen understands that the bill will be spread over Morland tower’s 46 flats, with the council covering the cost on behalf of its 41 tenants, whilst recharging the five remaining leaseholders for their share.

However, residents have not yet been provided with surveys of the building’s brickwork over the past 15 years, which would provide a clearer picture of how the building’s masonry came to fall into disrepair.

Julian Blake, chair of the MBTRA, said that the council had guaranteed residents will be able to see the extent of surveying work undertaken by the council on the building.

Residents are hoping this information will be provided prior to a consultation on the repairs’ cost due in the next month.

Blake said: “The council has promised full transparency and to work with us for the best possible result for Morland residents.

“That’s music to our ears because Hackney has certainly not been clear enough to this point.

“They confirmed we can see all the survey work to date and do more if needed.

“And they assured us that they will prioritise help for tower residents without ventilation.

“Let’s hope they deliver on these important points.”

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

Decorative brickwork fell 100 feet from the top of the tower at 1-46 Morland Estate on 23 November 2017, landing close to the entrance of a primary school.

Fortunately, no-one was hurt. The Citizen understands that the council immediately undertook checks to ensure the building itself was structurally sound and safe for residents.

Morland tower has since been covered by scaffolding, which guards against further falls and has enabled extensive checks of the building.

The scaffolding has reportedly come with its own problems to residents, including lack of ventilation, reduced light, and pest problems.

The repairs will include the installation of around ten specialist fixing ties in each 3x6m section of brick wall, installing prefabricated stainless steel angle brackets at each floor level, and re-fixing the decorative concrete panels.

In a statement to the Citizen, a council spokesperson said: “We met with residents this week to keep them updated about the progress of the repairs.

“We expect these to start in October following consultation with leaseholders as, under the terms of their contract, they are expected to bear a proportion of the costs of the repair work.

“This was an isolated incident specific to the design and age of the individual building.

“We will now be undertaking more extensive work to repair the brickwork and ensure it remains safe in the long term.

“Unfortunately, this is a time-consuming process due to the complexity of the repair work required.

“Purely as a precaution, we will be carrying out work on one other block which is of the same age and design.

“We carry out regular stock condition surveys and undertake day to day management of the 30,000 homes we own to ensure they remain in good condition.”

When asked for historic surveys of the property by the Citizen, the council added: “Once all of the investigation work is completed and confirmed, we are happy to provide this information.”

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