Action now on New Build Housing in Liverpool

This block in Norfolk Street is unlikely to ever be finished but many were built using fractional investment and other funding mechanisms. The Council’s actions over Fox Street have raised questions about all apartment blocks built since 2010

For the 5 years that I was member of the planning committee I asked question after question about the quality of new build apartments in the City. For a variety of reasons many of the new build units built since 2010 have been built to lower specifications that those built before the property slump of 2008. They have also been sold to an increasing number of unsophisticated investors who wanted to enter the buy to let market with false promises of high yields.

That is why I am delighted that my colleague, Cllr Kris Brown, who is our housing spokesperson has written to the Chief Executive of the Council asking him to take further the excellent action on the Fox Street Development where there are clearly breaches of acceptable building standards causing a major health and safety problem for tenants and owner occupiers alike.

As you can see from the letter below Cllr Brown is asking the Council, along with the Fire Service, to look at every block built since 2010 both to ensure that the buildings have been properly developed and to ensure that proper evacuation drills are undertaken.

Our advice to all people thinking of investing in residential property in Liverpool is DON’T. There is a major imbalance in the market at present with a massive overhang of unsold properties and far too many properties where the resale value is hugely below the original sale value with owners taking a consequent huge loss.

Cllr Brown’s letter to the Chief Executive is reproduced in full here.

Dear Tony,

I hope you are well?

Firstly, I would like to congratulate the Council on the decisive actions it has taken in respect of the Fox Street Village Development. The Council has shown that by doing this is it is prepared to take hard action to protect the safety and possibly even the lives of Liverpool residents. Hopefully, this will send a strong message to potential developers in the City. Just as good would be the adoption of a similar hard ball regime in other cities.

The Liverpool Echo has greatly assisted with this by giving maximum publicity to the Council’s actions. In doing so concerns have been raised by other occupiers of blocks, some built through the fractional investment model and some by more traditional methods, built since 2010.

Three things have happened since 2010:

1. The Government relaxed methods of checking the quality of new buildings by allowing developers effectively to ‘self-certificate’ that they were meeting approved building standards.

2. New developers have entered the market who do not have the long-term desire to build a brand and a reputation but rather want to make as much money as quickly as possible.

3. A new model of funding has brought into the development world unsophisticated investors, many from overseas, who have failed to make adequate checks on what they were buying for either investment or own use purposes.

I believe that the time has come when the Council should take its great work on Fox Street even further. I am, therefore, asking the Council to establish a team of building surveyors; environmental health officers and staff from the Fire Service to inspect all new housing and office blocks erected or converted since 2010 with a view to:

1. Inspecting the building materials used to ensure that they are both of the right quality and installed properly; and

2. That all residents are fully aware of the effects of alterations and actions within their own flats and the emergency evacuation procedures that are both in place and practiced for the blocks as a whole.

I believe that if we do this, we can ensure the peace of mind of thousands of residents and send a strong message to developers that if something is to be built in Liverpool it must be built to the highest possible safety standards.

I would be pleased to discuss this with you or your staff.

Best wishes,

Kris

— 

Cllr Kris Brown 

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Woolton Ward, Liverpool City Council

07742 144 107

www.liverlibdems.org.uk

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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