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Bayswater tenants horrified by ‘life-changing’ refurb charges

By Adrian Zorzut, Local Democracy Reporter

Residents living on a central London estate said they could be left homeless after being hit with a 300 per cent cost increase for a major refurbishment.

Leaseholders on the Hallfield Estate in Bayswater are being told to fork out as much as £60,000 extra for major works which started in 2012.

Westminster City council said inflation and global events like the pandemic as well as new building and fire safety regulations have resulted in unprecedented delays and cost increases.

It also said the latest round of works differ from those started in 2012, while a design defect in one of the blocks required remedial works, which contributed to delays.

But residents aren’t satisfied with the explanation and have accused the council of neglecting the estate, which they claim hasn’t had a major refurbishment since it was built in the 1950s, and say the local authority has not done enough to bring costs down.

Nayomi Roshini, 39, who has lived on the estate since she was six and now chairs the local residents’ association, said: “Most people in Hallfield Estate are hardworking people and I feel we get penalised for that because that’s how it feels.

“My mother bought our flat but was left feeling that having a leasehold was a terrible choice. Leaseholders feel like this is an albatross around their neck.”

Work on the 14-block estate began in 2012 and was expected to take two-and-a-half years to finish at a total cost of £12.5m, but 14 years on, less than half the work is done. The cost for the latest phase of the five-stage refurb will be £6m, with leaseholders expected to cover the lion’s share.

Estimates show work on a flat with six bedspaces has jumped from the £41,000 promised in 2012 to £105,000. The cost for a flat with two bedspaces rose from just under £10,000 to £30,820 – a 310 per cent increase.

Tamara Bradshaw, 42, said receiving her £80,000 bill in October was a “life-changing” moment for the family. The mum-of-two, who also pays for her mother’s care home costs, said the family will have to give up holidays and delay updating their water-damaged bathroom which is more than 40 years old just to cover the bill.

She said: “Where on earth do I find £80k to pay these bills? We work. We pay our taxes. We pay our mortgage and pay extortionate childcare costs and feel we are doing everything right and then we feel like we have been hit by a bus with this bill.

Tamara Bradshaw, left, says she has no idea how she’ll pay her bill; Brian Taylor, right, is worried his bill could increase to £150k. (Pictures: Facundo Arrizabalaga)

“We aren’t trying to dodge the bills. As a leaseholder you know that you will need to make contributions to major works bills when you purchase your home. However, these bills are of such a high amount, many flats paying close to £100k or even over £100k each, it’s a completely unreasonable expectation from Westminster council.

“As a normal working family, we have nowhere to find this amount of money, however are desperate for the new windows to replace those that have been neglected and damaged over a 70-year period.”

She feels the council isn’t interested in negotiating cost savings with contractors because it owns less than 35 per cent of the estate. Westminster City has not responded to this claim. 

But a Westminster City council spokesman did say: “For our leaseholders, Westminster has a generous range of payment terms to try and ensure that everyone has an affordable payment plan and is able to enjoy their newly-upgraded homes. 

“The costs associated with tenanted flats are paid for by the council with the tenants contributing to major works through their rent paid.” 

Pictured top: Nayomi Roshini, who says what is happening to leaseholders is “madness”. (Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga) 

 


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