LOCALS on a housing estate say they haven’t seen the sun in two years because huge scaffolding surrounds their flats.
Residents on the Regents Park estate in Camden, North London, say they can’t even access the communal gardens and the inconvenience is creating real issues for people who live there.
Daniel Bouve, who lives on the estate, has said he is extremely frustrated with Camden Council, who he claims has not given those living there enough information as the cost of keeping the scaffolding in place rises.
The council though says the work is being carried out to protect residents from falling debris from the housing blocks.
The freelance architect says he has only received four letters from the council over two years regarding the scaffolding while work to fix the problem has been almost non-existent.
Daniel, speaking about when the scaffolding first went up, told MyLondon residents had only been given two weeks’ notice because some masonry had come off one of the buildings on the estate.
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While he said residents got a letter explaining why the scaffolding had gone up and now he claimed that they get a letter every six months.
He said: “Now for the past two years, every six months we get a letter with the same wording: 'We apologise for the inconvenience, we are trying to find the right contractors,' right, for two years."
Daniel, 58, says he and other residents have been left “in limbo”.
Anyone living on the ground or first floor of the building now gets very little sunlight due to the scaffolding.
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Daniel was also concerned that apathy would spread among the residents who were said to be growing to just accept the new normal.
After a year of no sign of any repair work being carried out or any realistic timeline for when the scaffolding might come down, Daniel decided to take action.
He said: "I have seen this happening before, the council drag it out and hope that eventually, residents stop complaining.
"So after a year, I decided to go to the (local paper) Camden Journal because no work had been done."
Daniel, who has lived in the area for 20 years, said: “We have 40 flats here, half of which are first floor or ground floor that have had their sunlight blocked for two years.
“I've asked if the people affected might get compensation, the council has completely ignored my question, never answered it."
Due to the extent of the safety measures taken by the council, Daniel says the communal gardens on the estate are also in disarray, which the residents still have to pay a maintenance fee for.
He said: "These gardens were not maintained for two years, so rubbish was just building up, we still have leaves there from last winter and it's just me chasing up Camden Council and the caretaker because it looks so untidy."
Daniel also claimed the scaffolding also presented a potential security risk due to the fairly easily climbable construction.
He said on more than one occasion teenagers had climbed the scaffolding to try to break into the windows which come out onto the staircase, adding it had been reported to the council but there was never a response.
Daniel also claimed the darkness created by the scaffolding “tunnels” made more vulnerable people in the block stop using certain exits at certain times.
He said the “tunnels” had led to an increase in “anti-social behaviour and illegal dumping” of rubbish.
Daniel said it wasn’t until January last year that workmen had started inspecting the building, with teams being sent out to check the masonry and assess what work needed to be carried out.
The Camden Journal estimated at the time they covered the story last year, the scaffolding had already cost £350,000 of taxpayers’ money, indicating the figure was now double that.
Camden Council said that the scaffolding is there to protect residents from falling debris and is not an access scaffold such as would be used to work from.
In a statement, it said: “The safety of all of our residents is our number one concern, and this scaffolding was quickly erected due to the risk of falling materials from the buildings.
“We wrote to all residents to explain the situation and the reasons that the scaffolding had been erected.
“An initial tendering exercise was carried out for the repair work and unfortunately no suitable tenders were received.
“The Council subsequently appointed a specialist contractor and a detailed surveying programme has been undertaken to 14 blocks to identify the repairs that need to be undertaken.
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“We are working our way across the estate, and will continue to remove scaffolding as soon as it is safe to do so.
“We will update residents shortly regarding the timelines of the repair works on each block.”
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