Over 1,000 Forced To Leave Brentford Estate

Blocks occupied mainly by students in Paragon estate deemed unsafe

The Paragon accomodation block in Brentford
The Paragon accomodation block in Brentford


Ruth Cadbury MP Welcomes Action on Students' Rent

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Around 1,000 residents living in a Brentford estate are being forced to leave their homes immediately due to fire safety fears.

Housing association Notting Hill Genesis has apologised to those living in the six blocks at the Paragon Estate for the “huge disruption”, as experts have ordered an investigation to take place at the site following concerns residents’ lives are at risk.

The majority of the 1,059 flats on the estate are home to students from the University of West London (UWL).

The Paragon Estate was developed by Berkeley First, part of the Berkeley Group, and initially owned by the former Presentation Housing Association. This became part of Notting Hill Housing – now Notting Hill Genesis, in 2009.

Notting Hill Genesis has announced a safety review to fully establish structural and fire safety issues that have been uncovered.

The discovery comes as a series of safety checks were carried out of the development, looking at building performance issues and cladding-related concerns following the changed government guidance since the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

A spokesperson added the housing association has already taken action to address the risks such as temporary alarms and introducing evacuation plans, but that latest advice from experts has forced the drastic measures.

Notting Hill Genesis group chief executive Kate Davies said, “First, I want to say how sorry we are to residents that we have had to take this action and disrupt their lives.

“But, as a not-for-profit housing association, our priority is to provide safe, affordable housing. We always ensure the wellbeing of our residents, so while we are incredibly disappointed to have to make this decision, we believe that we have no choice but to ask people to leave their homes on the Paragon estate.

“I understand that Paragon residents may feel angry or alarmed by this news, as they have every right to be. This is a very distressing time and we are genuinely sorry for the huge amount of disruption and uncertainty that this situation will cause.

“This is a complex situation and we don’t yet have all the answers. We are working to uncover the full extent of the issues at Paragon so that we can provide residents with clarity about timescales, next steps and options as quickly as possible.”

Ms Davies added that safe accommodation is being provided for everyone to move into this week and that financial support is also being offered to help residents with the move.

Caseworkers have also been assigned to each resident to support their specific needs for now and “for the longer-term where necessary”.

It is not yet clear how long residents are expected to live in alternative accommodation.

Aside from student accommodation, the blocks are also a mix of shared ownership leasehold homes and reduced market rents.

According to the University of West London’s help page on the situation, students are being offered “higher quality” and more modern accommodation in Wembley. It adds they will receive a free travelcard for the rest of the academic year and shuttle buses will be arranged by the university for easy access to campus.

The university also details that Notting Hill Genesis will pay out an initial £50 to students to cover the cost of food.

A UWL spokesperson said: “Since being informed of the situation, UWL’s sole focus has been on identifying suitable alternative student accommodation and to put in place a comprehensive package of measures to support our students.

“All residents affected were communicated with directly at 11am today. Alternative accommodation has been secured for all those affected.

“Extensive support plans are in place to facilitate the smoothest possible transition to the new accommodation. The university and the Students’ Union are working closely to ensure the well-being of our students and to ensure any disruption is kept to a minimum.”

Aside from student accommodation, the blocks are also a mix of shared ownership leasehold homes and reduced market rents.

For more information on support for UWL students go to uwl.ac.uk/paragonhelp .

Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford and Isleworth said, "I will be working hard to ensure that both full time residents and students living in Paragon are given the full support that they need as they leave Paragon. I know that this will be an extremely stressful and difficult time for them.

"This is yet another reminder of the terrible stress and anxiety that is being put on residents across the country due to the ongoing cladding scandal as well as poor constructions quality and weak building standards.

"This is being added to by the ongoing impact that the coronavirus is having on so many people.

"I met with residents at Paragon in February to hear of the long-standing issues they have had around the repairs and removal of cladding, and was waiting to get clear answers from Notting Hill Genesis about the plans for the building, when I got today’s news."

Hounslow Council leader, Cllr Steve Curran, said, “We are pleased Notting Hill Genesis have taken such quick action to address the situation. The council is at hand to provide support should it be required, however we have been reassured by NHG about alternative accommodation being provided for residents including those that are self-isolating due to Covid-19. They are liaising with our Public Health team for advice and guidance.

“We realise this is very distressing news for residents during an already difficult time but this action is necessary to keep residents safe now and in the future.”

Anahita Hossein-Pour- Local Democracy Reporter

October 19, 2020

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