Council tight-lipped over its responsibilities as residents’ nightmare goes on and on

DISTRESSED residents who face losing tens of thousands of pounds on the value of their homes following a botched luxury housing development have turned to Thurrock Council for help – but fear their pleas will fall on deaf ears.

The Thurrock Independent has documented the problems faced by residents who have bought homes at the supposedly luxury development called Pullman Court in the heart of Grays.

The luxury flats, costing upwards of £250,000 each, have been blighted by damp, electrical hazards, unfinished worksmanship, faulty glazing and many other problems, several residents have already spent tens of thousands of pounds trying to rectify the problems, while others fear they will lose out massively on the value of their new homes.

Their one significant hope of recompense was that, as part of the planning permission for the site – granted by Thurrock council – the homes have to be signed off as safe and having been built to the recommended standards.
That sign off used to be the automatic responsibility of local councils and their enforcement teams but new rules allow the verification work to be contracted out, by the builders, to private firms.

In the case of Pullman Court, that task was given to a company called Bureau Veritas.

However, residents have now been told in a statement from Bureau Veritas UK Unit Director Dave Allen that they have quit the job and have no responsibility to address the problems.

Mr Allen – while listing a large number of faults with the site, gets his company ‘off the hook’ by saying: “Due to difficulties with working with the builder and the overrun of the project In September 2018 we withdrew our building control services from the scheme which was formalised by the issuing of a Building Control Cancellation Notice on 9 November 2018.

“This process shifted the control of the project to the local authority who continued to monitor the project for compliance.”

However, the Thurrock Independent has been told previously by Thurrock Council it has no responsibility for the site.

Local ward councillor Jane Pothecary also drew short shrift from the authority when she took up some residents’ concerns, telling the Thurrock Independent earlier this month: “I’ve had a partial response on this… but I seeking clarity as I don’t think the response is all that clear.

“I think the planning department is saying the assessors cannot just hand the building off to the local authority.

“Again I seeking clarity on this and what residents are supposed to do next if that is the case.”

She has heard nothing further and last week the Thurrock Independent again asked the council what it was planning to do for residents and to enforce its planning regulations on the developers. There has been no response.

Residents also appear to have been left in limbo – both by the council and by the site developers and its financiers – all who appear to have washed their hands of this issue. Big city fiance house Pluto Finance is believed to be the main investor in the project – but it has played down its role, and responsibilities.

The project originator, an Essex businessman with a chequered history in property development, has also made himself scarce to residents – though he did speak to the Thurrock Independent last year (see below)

And things may be getting worse.

A resident told us this week: “We have also recently had some problems on site, the full security provision has been withdrawn and now we only have part time security and live in caretakers.

“Since then we have had a number of problems with anti social behaviour from interesting member of the public gaining access to the building and refusing to leave. And by interesting, I mean the local crackhead contingent who hang around the town centre and the train station. They can gain access due to the security doors still not being installed.”