Residents were left horrified after a balcony collapsed from an £81million apartment complex onto a street in east London.
Shocking photos posted on social media show huge pieces of timber and other debris scattered across the pavement in Barking.
Matt Lismore, who lives on the Gascoigne East estate, said it's a "miracle nobody was seriously injured" after parts of the balcony tumbled down on Saturday evening.
Yesterday evening a balcony collapsed in onto the street in my apartment building, just 4 years after construction.
The building, whose freeholder is Barking & Dagenham Council, was constructed by @BouyguesUK on behalf of @lbbdcouncil ‘s social and affordable housing… pic.twitter.com/sUbhNzOEHy
— Matt Lismore (@MattLismore) November 12, 2023
He tweeted: “Yesterday evening a balcony collapsed onto the street in my apartment building, just 4 years after construction.
“All 414 properties are now considered ''unsafe'' and we will need to erect scaffolding across the entire estate to keep ourselves and the public safe.”
Mr Lismore, who works as an investment banker, said he wrote to Barking and Dagenham Council to express his “concern about the management and build quality of the development” after a previous balcony collapse around two years ago.
“It’s a miracle that nobody was seriously injured, I have repeatedly asked our local councillors and the leader of the council, Darren Rodwell, following the first collapse to remedy these issues and he hastaken no action,” he said.
“He is simply unfit to lead this borough and should now do the honourable thing and resign.”
Mr Lismore said “the main issues are around building safety, build quality and propensity for defective equipment/infrastructure, poor building management and very slow repairs."
He noted how “several balconies have fallen off onto the property below” and “no attempt has been made to survey whether other balconies are at risk of falling”.
Mr Lismore also posted a photo of a “smaller, partial collapse” in summer 2021 that appears to show sheeting hanging down the balcony below.
He said he met with property managers in August who told him “there were no issues with the balconiesand that I was categorically wrong to assert there was”.
Mr Lismore said the building is hampered by the use of “cheap and ineffective metals”, “a wood type that rots when exposed to moisture” and a “drainage system that wasn't fit for purpose”.
Mr Lismore lives in the Weavers Quarter, a newly renovated apartment complex that saw large swathes of the old estate demolished and replaced by new flats and maisonettes.
Cllr Darren Rodwell, the Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, has raised concerns in a letter to the Managing Director of construction firm Bouygues about the balcony facades on the apartment complex.
Cllr Rodwell wrote: “In September, L&Q, the original development agent for the scheme, served a defect notice on Bouygues about the soundness of the balcony facades. I understand that Bouygues have accepted this notice, but not yet liability for the work. I understand Bouygues have already completed repairs to some balconies on the estate. I expect all remaining inspections to be carried out at pace so that work can be completed to make good the remaining balconies.”
A spokesperson for Barking and Dagenham Council said: "On the evening of 11 November, the underside of a balcony’s facade on the Weaver’s Quarter estate in Barking collapsed. Thankfully no one was hurt. Although it did not affect the structural integrity of the building, it was a horrifying experience for the people living there and represents a risk to people who may be passing by.
"The estate was built by Bouygues on behalf of L&Q. Under the 106 Agreement, the council also owns properties on the estate via our housing company Reside. The management of these properties sits with Reside.
"Following further reports from residents that they were concerned about balcony safety - investigations were carried out by Reside and L&Q in consultation with our building safety team.
"The Council’s housing company, Reside, is arranging works to reduce the risk until we have clear assurance that all balconies on the estate are safe.
"We are currently in discussions with Bouygues to impress on them 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."