Pieces of rotten wood and debris fell from the underside of one balcony on the 400-home Weaver’s Quarter at the former Gascoigne Estate on Saturday (11 November), images shared on social media showed, leading to inspections across dozens of homes.
Council leader Darren Rodwell wrote to French-owned contractor Bouygues urging inspections ‘at pace’ in response to the incident, the AJ’s sister title Construction News reported.
Rodwell wrote: ‘I understand Bouygues has already completed repairs to some balconies on the estate [and] I expect all remaining inspections to be carried out at pace so that work can be completed to make good the remaining balconies.’
He added: ‘We are currently in discussions with Bouygues to impress on it the need to take urgent action on the concerns raised. We will continue to work with Bouygues, L&Q and Reside to address any ongoing resident concerns.’
Bouygues delivered the homes on the Weaver’s Quarter estate for L&Q, which was acting as development agent and subsequently sold the homes to the council, which now owns them through its housing company Reside.
The council added that while no people were hurt by the collapse, there was ‘a risk to people who may be passing by’ and that works would be carried out to ensure all balconies are safe.
Resident Matt Lismore used social media to publish an email he sent Rodwell in May 2022 raising ‘concern about the management and build quality’ of Weaver’s Quarter. He claimed ‘no action was taken’.
Speaking to the AJ on behalf of the estate’s residents, Lismore said: ‘After the events of this weekend, we have many questions that need answering, but we are mainly grateful that nobody was injured.
‘We hope that the developer will commit to remediating the defects at no cost to the leaseholders in the coming days, as we are yet to receive this assurance.
‘As for the council, it is alarming that despite being aware that these properties had risk-to-life defects in May 2022, the council and its leader, Darren Rodwell, continued to attest that they were state-of-the-art homes that the residents of Barking and Dagenham should be proud to own and rent.’
In a statement, Bouygues UK said: ‘Following the incident at Weaver’s Quarter Estate, where some soffit boards detached and fell from a balcony, our main concern has been ensuring residents’ safety.
‘We are working hard with Reside to take immediate action, put the necessary safety measures in place and undertake appropriate remediation works.’
Allies and Morrison drew up the masterplan for the wider 16.4ha estate regeneration, with Levitt Bernstein delivering the first phase. Both practices as well as L&Q declined to comment.