Homeowners in Croydon’s failed Brick by Brick developments fear they will never sell

By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter

Owners of brand new flats built by Croydon council’s failed developer Brick by Brick say they’ve faced a catalogue of problems since moving in, from gas leaks to water pipes not being fitted.

To make matters worse some of the owners fear they will struggle to sell their home when the time comes that they look to move due to all the issues.

Couples and families were attracted to buy newly built homes on the Auckland Rise and Sylvan Hill development, in Crystal Palace, by their unique designs and claims profits would be ploughed back into the community.

A general view of the brick by brick development in Crystal Palace (Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga)

Robert Dick, 39, moved into his flat in October 2021 and faced a gas leak shortly after.

He said: “The flat is nice but there are some defects some of which are more serious, like a gas leak immediately after we moved. We are in touch with people across the buildings and I know ours is not the only case.

“It made us feel quite at risk, we have asked for a safety certificate to be issued but we have seen evidence of that yet. It is one example of the poor level of communication and poor level of service we have had.”

He said he was not aware of the situation with Brick by Brick before moving into the property.

The development includes 57 one and two-bedroom flats, which are built in the existing estate between Church Road, Sylvan Hill and Auckland Road.

The homes were built by Croydon council-owned developer Brick by Brick which was set up in 2016 to build affordable homes but has since been partly blamed for the financial collapse of the council.

The authority’s independent auditors said £200million loaned to the company contributed to it having to declare bankruptcy for the first time in November 2020.

The company is now in the process of being closed down, which is expected to be completed in 2024.

Melissa Chapman, 47, is worried about being able to sell her flat in the future if service charges keep going up. She claims there were drainage issues in her flat and the pipes in her bathroom were not fitted correctly.

“People aren’t going to want to come and move here because of all the bills,” she said.

Management of the blocks has been handed from the developer to company FirstPort.

A spokesperson for FirstPort said a suspected gas leak in early February this year was addressed on the same day. They said as it was in a flat not a communal area they were given advice on how to get it “investigated urgently”.

The spokesperson added: “Our property manager regularly visits the site and is available to customers to discuss any concerns. We also have a communal noticeboard at the development containing contact details for the property manager and our customer services team, should there be an urgent need to contact us. We do sometimes rely on contractors to carry out specialist work and we work closely with them to ensure things are actioned quickly.”

Brick by Brick was contacted for comment through Croydon council.

Pictured top: Blocks of flats built by Brick by Brick in the estate off Sylvan Hill, Crystal Palace (Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga)

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