A tale of two surveys
THE row over proposals to demolish an estate of aluminium prefabs is rumbling on with residents hitting back at claims the buildings cannot be repaired cost effectively. Last week North Hertfordshire Homes, owners of most of the bungalows in Campfield Way
THE row over proposals to demolish an estate of aluminium prefabs is rumbling on with residents hitting back at claims the buildings cannot be repaired cost effectively.
Last week North Hertfordshire Homes, owners of most of the bungalows in Campfield Way and Highover Road in Letchworth GC issued a photograph of the corroded frame of an empty bungalow to illustrate the scale of damage to the buildings.
It said that an independent surveyor had carried out a full inspection of the empty bungalow and had stated that even rectifying the structural problems on the bungalows would not help the homes meet standards set by the Government.
But now the Highover and Campfield Residents' Association is claiming that a survey it had done on another bungalow contradicts the one carried out on behalf of NHH.
It also says the only reason NHH carried out a survey was because the association had had one done.
Jean Fish, secretary of the association, said: "They made all those decisions without the benefit of a structural survey.
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"In the end our association paid for a survey. They wouldn't do one until we did one.
"We did ours in July last year and they did theirs at the beginning of October.
"They weren't going to do one."
The association's surveyor removed panels in Mrs Fish's bungalow to explore four points of the property.
He found some minor surface corrosion at the bottom of one of the walls but apart from that concluded "the structure of the building is in excellent condition and subject to regular maintenance should continue to serve its purpose as a dwelling for many more years".
Mrs Fish said that the bungalows have not required any structural work to them in the more than five decades they have been standing.
She added: "Apart from the windows they are exactly the same as they were.
"I think whoever made the decision to buy them in 1950 should be very proud of themselves.
"They are a great example of the innovation of Letchworth."
But NHH is standing firm in its conviction that the bungalows need to be demolished.
Its chief executive Kevin Thompson said that the NHH survey had been carried out by a firm of "nationally recognised experts on properties of this kind".
Mr Thompson added: "It is not surprising that the residents' association, which opposes the plans for new housing, quotes its own general survey.
"The brief for our surveys were very detailed and specifically designed to give us the technical information we need as landlord with the various obligations placed on us by the Government and health and safety legislation. That is why we went to experts in the field.
"It is disappointing that the residents' association continues to publicly disbelieve the evidence that has emerged.
"We hope everyone will make up their own minds, so now that the panelling has been removed from the empty property we will be encasing it in perspex and inviting residents and other interested parties to come and see what condition it is in."
NHH estimates the empty bungalow will be available for inspection by residents in the next couple of weeks.