North London residents rallied outside a Stamford Hill developer’s office on the weekend, protesting its handling of the cladding crisis.
Protesters gathered outside developer Countryside’s sales office in Hackney on June 5, claiming the authority has “washed its hands” of them and left people with “large bills” following the building safety crisis in the wake of the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire.
The ongoing cladding scandal has revealed large numbers of buildings in the UK are clad in dangerously combustible materials. Many residential blocks have also been found non-compliant with other fire-safety building requirements leaving leaseholders at risk, unable to sell and facing extensive and costly remedial work, ‘waking watches,’ and rising insurance premiums.
A Hackney protester, who preferred not to be named, said: “Being in this situation, as a trapped leaseholder, makes me feel rather powerless.”
They joined in one of many actions staged across the country, adding: “Protests like the ones last week can be really powerful when they are organised nationwide, even when they are small individually.
“I also feel we have no other choice as we keep getting ignored.”
The protest was organised by Silver Point residents who live in a building built by Countryside on the edge of Edmonton and Tottenham.
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Campaigners allege almost 100 residents have been affected in that building alone, facing £12,000 bills each to remove cladding after it was rejected from the government’s Building Safety Fund, launched to protect leaseholders from the costs of remediation..
Silver Point resident Edel Smullen said: “Countryside have left us in dire straits.”
Edel alleged that before the cladding crisis Countryside had implemented doubling ground rents and sol the freehold of their block’s flats to offshore company Adriatic Land, who have said they will be passing the costs of the remediation works on to leaseholders.
A Countryside spokesperson said fire safety and the quality of the construction of its buildings is “an absolute priority”. The spokesman added: “We are sympathetic to the challenges faced by some leaseholders.
“We are working with freeholders and managing agents across a small number of historical developments to carry out remedial work and help leaseholders obtain the required certification for them to be able to sell or re-mortgage their home.”
Ground rent fund Long Harbour was contacted on behalf of its freehold owning entity Adriatic Land.