The Independent London Newspaper
23rd May 2019

Camden Council told it is 'in denial' about problems with flagship estate regeneration project

    Camden Council told it is 'in denial' about delays on flagship estate regenerati

    Sadiq Khan was shown around the Maiden Lane Estate by council leader Sarah Hayward earlier this year

    Published: 22 September, 2016

    THE Town Hall’s flagship estate regeneration scheme – hailed this week as one of the council’s “best achievements” – is being delivered almost two years behind schedule after being hit by leaks and construction issues. 

    The overhaul at the Maiden Lane estate, in Camden Town, has been repeatedly championed by local Labour politicians as a pioneering model of housebuilding, with tours set up for high-profile figures such as London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

    But this week council chiefs were forced to apologise for delays to the scheme due to leaks in new buildings.

    The project will see 74 council homes built by re-organising the estate to include 147 private flats and 52 shared-ownership properties to be bought and let out by the council’s new housing company, Camden Living.

    It can now be revealed, however, that construction delays mean new homes originally scheduled for completion as long ago as July 2015 will now not be ready until next April at the earliest.

    Of the private homes for sale, 42 have so far been sold, although the Town Hall said it expected to exchange contracts with another 30 in the next month.

    But one buyer, who bought a two-bed flat off-plan, has become extremely concerned about the scheme’s progress.

    The council had lost sight of “how absolutely absurd” the delays are, the buyer told the New Journal, adding: “Councillors and officers are acting with incredible obstinacy in steadfastly insisting that these delays, now of nearly two years and counting, are caused by labour and materials shortages when it is plain to see that many similarly-sized new-build projects have managed to complete on time within their own borough.”

    Existing residents on the estate are furious at “broken promises” and being forced to “live on a building site” with dust, road closures and construction noise for nearly three years.

    Maiden Lane Tenants’ and Residents’ Association has written to councillors calling for rent and service charge reductions, saying: “The new build on Maiden Lane is a joke. Council officials who have no real experience in building new homes are failing to manage this.”

    Their concerns were not mentioned by Labour councillor Danny Beales at Monday’s full council meeting when he said the Maiden Lane scheme was “one of the best achievements” in the ward. The delays were also not covered by Councillor Phil Jones, Camden’s regeneration chief, who said afterwards that he preferred to “focus on the bigger picture”.

    The Town Hall says the project has suffered from a London-wide shortage of skilled tradespeople and specialist workers.

    Cllr Jones admitted he was “very unhappy” with the costs of delays and that he had “immense sympathy” with residents living next to the site.

    “We are sorry for the construction delays to the new homes on Maiden Lane estate, which is a result of contractors not delivering their programme to its time­scales,” he said.

    The setbacks have prompted questions over whether the council has the experience to act as a developer of projects in its Community Investment Programme, the 15-year plan to invest in housebuilding and schools by levering in funding from the private market.

    A spokesman for contractor Sisk said: “Unfortunately, there have been a number of unforeseen factors outside our control that have led to significant delays on the Maiden Lane project. We continue to work closely with Camden Council to ensure all works are delivered as soon as possible to the highest standards achievable.”



    Leaks again?

    The Council needed to raise £17.8m to pay for repairs for the entire estate largely owing to leaks from the heating, windows and rooves of the 1970's estate bulit by them when they had their own architecture department.

    They have now built more homes with leaks.

    No wonder councillors are"very unhappy"

    Apparently 16 trees have also been felled....

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