Welcome to the Barleymow Action Group. Our members all own flats in one of two tower blocks on the Barleymow Estate in Tower Hamlets, London. We are facing demands from the council of up to £82,000 each for so-called “repairs” to our blocks which we should not have to pay.
Our blocks were built using the “Large Panel System” method (LPS) – the same fundamentally flawed design that led to the collapse of Ronan Point, a tower block in Newham which partially collapsed in 1968 killing five people and the Grenfell tower in which 72 people died because later refurbishment works (also made to our blocks) turned a fire proof building into a death trap.
In 1988, the council carried out extensive structural surveys revealing serious defects that put the blocks at risk of collapse in the event of an explosion which could result if, for example, a resident were to store an LPG gas canister in their flat, such as those used in portable gas heaters. A firm of consulting engineers carried out a feasibility study in 1990 to advise the best route to remedy this. By then, the government’s “right to buy” scheme was gaining popularity, and it is now clear that much emphasis was placed on making these otherwise worthless flats “mortgageable” so that they could be sold off. Thus, the council chose the cheapest option which just met the recommended safety standards while making the flats “mortgageable” although it only had a 30-year design lifespan!
None of this information was made available to those of us who bought the flats and these reports only came to light after a Freedom of Information request was made in 2019.
Following the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire, the council carried out further structural surveys revealing that they did not meet current Building Research Establishment recommendations. Although the council have no legal obligation to retrospectively apply these recommendations to existing buildings, the repercussions of the Grenfell disaster has undoubtedly influenced their decision to carry out yet another round of strengthening works.
The council’s managing agents Tower Hamlets Homes estimates that we will have to pay between £60,000 for a 1 bedroom flat to £82,000 for those with a 3-bed. They have offered to buy back the flats “at a fair price” but that price must be after deduction of these charges.
We should not have to pay for this work! Many consider it an attempt by the council to grab their properties from them at below market value. Together we formed the “Barleymow Action Group” to campaign against the council’s attempt to charge us and we are planning legal action to stop it.
For the full background and details, click here to read Our Story