Caroline ffiske writes:
Burne Jones House on the Lytton Estate in West Kensington is the last block on the estate to have no controlled access for its stairways. It has been the last block in this position for a very long time.
Residents frequently report anti-social behaviour arising from this. This is a small sample from 2016:
“We have had our bikes vandalised, and there are frequent congregations of people smoking weed and drinking in the stairwells.”
Across 2016, Hammersmith & Fulham housing staff were in the process of scoping out capital works required to bring Burne Jones House up to a decent standard.
Council officers told me that the scope of work would include:
- New windows and balcony doors
- New front entrance doors
- New main roof covering and upgrade of insulation
- New covering to flat roof sections
- Chimney and parapet repairs
- Renewal/repair of asphalt to private balconies and deck access walkways
- Brickwork and concrete repairs
- Redecoration of previously painted surfaces
Across 2017 residents in Burne Jones House regarded the building works as imminent. In September 2017 a meeting was finally held where residents were told they would soon receive notice of scaffolding going up. Residents started to think about how they would plan access to their homes while they were out at work, or how to raise the funds required, if they are leaseholders.
But for month after month afterwards, the scaffolding did not go up. Christmas passed and residents still received no notification about the delay and no explanation for it. No communication whatsoever.
Now in June 2018 residents have finally been told that works will be “delayed” – fullstop. Apparently the Council is developing a new competitive tendering process for capital works on its housing stock. And if you are caught in the middle you are caught in the middle. However it is okay because the Council is committed to “Working with residents in an open and transparent way to make sure you are fully consulted and have a meaningful input into the works that will be undertaken to your homes and a full understanding of any costs involved.”
When you are told that building works are likely to start in 2017 and you do not even get a letter saying they will not, until mid-2018, I do not call that working with residents in an open and transparent way. As Jean-Jacques Rousseau said “It now became the interest of men to appear what they really were not. To be and to seem became two totally different things.”
The real problem is the social housing model itself. There is no ownership involved, only disinterested bureaucrats, and so no one has an incentive to care. Tenants may be distressed but they are effectively indentured to the state and cannot vote with their feet.