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Nunhead residents fear their homes will collapse if flats are built on top of their building – South London News

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By Robert Firth, local democracy reporter

 

Residents of an estate fear their homes will fall down if an extra floor of flats is built on top of their building.

People on the Nunhead Estate say they don’t want the new apartments that Southwark council intends to construct above their homes.

Housing chiefs say 27 new council flats could be created by adding an extra floor to four blocks on the 1950s estate. But residents are worried their lives are going to be made a misery for months by noisy building work if the plans go ahead.

Locals say their blocks are already crumbling from 70 years of wear and tear, with window frames dropping off and ceilings leaking. They say the council should fix the existing flats before building more above.

FJ Idowu, who lives on the top floor of one of the blocks, said he feared the noisy construction work.

The 30 year old said: “I’m on the against side because I can imagine it causing lots of hassle. I think it’s going to cause lots of noise and disturbance.

FJ Idowu

“I don’t know how straightforward it is building new properties on original ones. I don’t see how they’re going to do it, but they’re architects and that’s what they’re paid for.”

Mr Idowu added that he was in the process of buying the flat he has lived in for 12 years on the estate, but was now worried about the decision.

Fellow resident Debbie, who declined to give her surname, said she feared her block wasn’t strong enough to take the extra weight of additional flats.

The 56 year old said: “We are being held hostage. I’m worried I will wake up one day and there will be part of the ceiling in the hallway.

“The building is already falling down and they want to come and put more weight on top. That’s not going to help the situation.

“I’ve lived here for 30 years and when I moved in they put new windows in and they did the inside of the block about 20 years ago. Other than that, nothing.

“When we ring up about leaks they say it’s not an emergency if you’ve got a bucket, but I’ve got to get up every two hours [to empty it].”

Blessing Erhiajporeh

Across the street from her, Blessing Erhiajporeh, a structural engineer, said he wasn’t bothered about the plans as long as the proper inspections were carried out.

The 24 year old said: “If they can get more affordable housing I say good for them.

“If the foundations can’t take the load they can do a foundation investigation. When the building was designed they didn’t take into account the extra flats so that all counts.”

Cllr Stephanie Cryan, Southwark’s cabinet member for council homes and homelessness, said: “London’s housing crisis is hitting Southwark hard. We have 3,400 households living in temporary accommodation and more than 16,500 households on our waiting list for a home.

“Half of these households include children, many of whom are living in overcrowded and cramped homes. There is real human cost to inaction, which is why we are looking at more than 70 sites across the borough to build new council homes.

“As part of this work, we are investigating the possibility of extending a number of our estates upwards. We have currently engaged professional, external services to review existing structures, fire safety and all the other information that we need to make a sound decision about progressing such a scheme, at any estate.

“We would never, under any circumstances, allow works to go ahead where there was any doubt to the safety of our residents or the structural integrity of the building.”

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