Almost 80 balconies at apartment complex in London at risk of partial collapse

Almost 80 balconies at an apartment complex in London built four years ago are at risk of partially collapsing, it has emerged, as builders put up scaffolding amidst ongoing concerns over safety.

The decision to further investigate 77 balconies at the Weaver’s Quarter on the Gascoigne estate in Barking comes after parts from one fell to the floor last week, fortunately leaving no-one hurt.

Estate management company L&Q said it took safety seriously and was in talks with the builder to push for “urgent action” – however, the recent events have increased concerns among residents.

One of them, Kinga Surowka, came outside her home to discover her neighbour’s balcony had partially collapsed on to her front yard on 11 November.

“I was in shock,” she told The Independent. “There was a metal panel just hanging off. I didn’t know what else was going to fall.

“It fell outside the entrance to the flats. We were very lucky this happened late at night. This was a first floor balcony, imagine if it happened from the fifth floor, imagine the impact.

The balcony partially collapsed and scraps of metal could be seen hanging loosely

(Kinga Surowka)

Pieces of metal and rotted wood were seen in pieces outside the apartment complex entrance

(Kinga Surowka)

“Imagine it happened at 8.30am, kids pass by here every day to go to school. If you pass by here at 3.30pm, the streets are filled with kids.”

Mrs Surowka lives with two children, aged two and five, on the estate where the builder, a company called Bouygues, had already carried out repairs to 56 balconies since 2021.

The firm had then been tasked with a “wider programme of works” by L&Q before the balcony partially collapsed last week. Now residents have been told that 77 balconies could require work, with scaffolding to go up at each one.

Kinga Surowka fears for her children’s safety after a balcony collapsed and fell into her front yard

(Kinga Surowka)

Matt Lismore, leader of the Weaver’s Quarter Residents Association, claimed his concerns over the balconies had previously been ignored. He claimed this was the fourth instance of a balcony collapsing.

His partner, Preeti Atwal, said she didn’t feel safe and felt conscious using facilities such as the communal underground garage. On a previous incident, she said: “A bit of the roof flew off and landed in the street. It was flapping in the wind for ages.”

With so many parties involved, residents are also anxious about where liability lies and whether they will be forced to fork out and pay for any further damage, or whether they will be able to sell their home.

Mr Lismore reported a balcony had partially collapsed in summer of 2021, children’s toys can be seen on the balcony beneath

(Matt Lismore)

Ms Atwal said: “When you buy a house, you expect it to be at the quality its advertised at. You don’t expect it to fall down.”

Tamas Sebok, a radiographer, who has lived in the development since it was built in 2019, expressed his frustration at the latest event. He said: “I am very angry. It’s purely by luck that someone hasn’t been killed yet.”

He said: “There is no sense of urgency. Every day there are so many children playing outside in the courtyard – you never know when a balcony could collapse and fall on them.

“The balconies are not the only problem – people in this building have had problems with leaky toilets. Their floors were rotten and [they’ve] had to pay to get their flooring replaced.”

Preeti Atwal (left) and Matt Lismore (right) with their dog. Ms Atwal fears she may now be “imprisoned” in her home

(Preeti Atwal)

Although the estate was built by Bouygues for L&Q, Barking and Dagenham Council now owns some properties at the site, managing them via its housing company, BD Reside.

A spokesperson for the council said: “On the evening of 11 November, the underside of a balcony’s facade on the Weaver’s Quarter estate in Barking collapsed. Thankfully no one was hurt. Although it did not affect the structural integrity of the building, it was a horrifying experience for the people living there and represents a risk to people who may be passing by.”

The council is now in discussions with Bouygues “to impress on them the need to take urgent action”, as its own housing company arranges works to reduce the risks, the spokesperson added.

L&Q also said it was working with BD Reside and Bouygues to address current issues.

Customer and quality director, Ilan Shapiro, said: “In 2021, we received a report about an issue with a balcony at an L&Q residents home. This led to estate-wide investigations and Bouygues repairing 56 balconies across the estate.

“In August 2023, we were concerned to hear that more issues had emerged. We worked with BD Reside to carry out more inspections, and have been in discussions with Bouygues about starting a wider programme of works.

“We are very concerned by the recent incident. We will keep our residents updated on progress and have asked that they do not use their balconies further notice.”

A spokesperson for Bouygues UK said: “Following the incident at Weaver’s Quarter Estate, where some soffit boards detached and fell from a balcony, our main concern has been ensuring residents’ safety.

“We are working hard with Reside to take immediate action, put the necessary safety measures in place and undertake appropriate remediation works.”


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