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Nova House problems 'more serious than thought' says letter to landlords

Leaseholders of a Slough tower block with unsafe cladding have been warned the building’s disrepair is ‘much more serious’ than originally thought.

Nova House in Buckingham Gardens hit the headlines after it failed a Government backed cladding safety test following the Grenfell Tower Disaster.

Slough Borough Council (SBC) bought the freeholding company Ground Rent Estates 5 LTD (GRE5) in March this year, taking over the seven-storey tower, due to safety concerns.

Addressing leaseholders in a letter on Tuesday, April 24, GRE5 said: “The condition of the building is much more serious than you may previously have been aware.”

Leaseholders were warned a ‘stay put’ policy is no longer suitable as compartmentation issues mean ‘fires could spread from flat to flat’.

Other problems listed in the letter include ‘insufficient fire safety and ventilation’ in the now closed underground car park, a lack of protection to the external fire escape and ‘numerous other defects affecting the safety of the building’.

“We know this information may come as a shock to you and this is obviously not good news, but we remain committed to working with you on the way forward,” the company adds.

GRE5 has asked Fenchurch Law to assess the possibility of mounting an insurance claim over the building’s defects as well as legal action against third parties involved in previous work.

For reasons still unknown, the cladding material, manufactured by Valcan and installed by Dales Services, was different to the type specified by the original developer, Timeless Property Services LTD, and independent building control inspector Butler and Young.

But the possibility of leaseholders paying for at least some of the damage has not been ruled out, and will depend on the freeholder’s success in claiming money from the other parties.

Despite numerous complaints about the building’s management by Ringley Group, GRE5 says it is keeping the firm on 'for practical reasons’.

Nova House resident Peter Bothwell said that as well as leaseholders, tenants like himself need to be told exactly what the problems are and the scale of them.

He questioned why SBC’s planning committee approved plans by Nova House’s original developer, now known as Click Properties Ltd, for a new tower block in Herschel Street nearby in March, given Nova House’s faults.

A Click Properties Ltd spokesman said Nova House’s construction was inspected by a building control officer, a fire safety officer, buildings warranty insurance inspector and numerous surveyors and was not considered ‘unsafe’ when it signed off by Butler and Young in October 2015.

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