London

Canary Wharf flat tenants face £2m repair bill

Brewster and Malting House Image copyright Google
Image caption The two blocks previously had flammable cladding replaced, paid for by council and government funding

Homeowners in two tower blocks face a £2m bill after engineers said the buildings may collapse in an explosion.

Residents were billed up to £77,000 each to improve the "structural integrity" of Brewster House and Malting House in Canary Wharf.

After safety checks prompted by the Grenfell Tower fire, engineers Wilde Carter Clack said floors could buckle in a severe incident.

An explosion was unlikely, said Tower Hamlets Council.

'Completely unfair'

The two blocks on Oak Lane and Three Colt Street had flammable cladding replaced after the buildings failed fire safety tests in 2018.

This was paid for by council and government funding.

A further review by Wilde Carter Clack found the blocks "at risk of progressive structural collapse in the event of an explosion and possibly following an extremely intense fire, which could cause floors to buckle".

The council admitted an explosion was unlikely because there was no "piped gas" in the 112 flats.

Brewster resident Belinda Lemesuriek, 39, was told she owes £55,000 for her one-bed flat.

"Asking us for tens of thousands pounds out of the blue is completely unfair," she said.

Mayor John Biggs said: "This is a deeply stressful and worrying situation for all involved, so it is right that we look again at all of the options."

The council is planning to further consult residents.

Where do leaseholders stand?

Image copyright FAMILY HANDOUT
Image caption Florence Bourne, 93, died after being unable to pay £50,000 for the refurbishment of her block in Newham in 2013

Leaseholders in council properties are protected from huge bills by "Florrie's Law".

Florence Bourne, 93, died after being unable to pay £50,000 for the refurbishment of her block in Newham in 2013.

The government capped repairs at £15,000 for local authority leaseholders, but only if works are partly funded by a central government grant.

If not, the council can pass on the entire cost.

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