Fire safety barriers missing in Cornwall developments

Fire safety barriers missing in Cornwall developments

PERSIMMON HOMES’ issues with missing fire safety barriers in homes have now been confirmed in properties in Cornwall as well as Devon.

Earlier this year, a resident in a block of flats built by Persimmon in Exeter claimed his pet python’s escape and discovery ‘exposed fire safety breaches’ in ‘missing’ fire safety compartmentation. The property at Hill Barton Vale is one of six named by a whistleblower as having failed health and safety inspections, after a fire at a similar development in April 2018.

The snake’s escape and capture last August led to an inspection of the six flat building by social housing provider LiveWest, with the resident claiming compartmentation barriers were missing between his and all other flats in the building. Another Exeter resident Paul Frost launched an investigation in a separate block after he found his home was also missing fire safety barriers.

Persimmon is said to have ‘persistently refused’ to answer questions about how many homes have failed inspections, and how many other developments locally and nationwide have failed. It had ‘initially denied’ a problem with the properties after Mr Frost had notified them of concerns at his own property, with Persimmon then sending letters to residents asking them to inspect their own homes ‘due to roof space cavity problems’ in what was believed to be Mr Frost’s home.

Persimmon later admitted that it is inspecting a ‘wider area of properties’ as a consequence, with the most recent development having been that inspections were broadened out beyond the original area of focus. Devon Live has now reported that homes in Cornwall have been confirmed to have missing fire safety barriers, with the company responding that customers on any of its developments ‘can make contact at any time if they have concerns’.

The confirmation at Lowen Bre in Truro, the news outlet states, is the ‘first confirmation the issue has been highlighted in Cornwall as well as Devon’, with an anonymous homeowner asking Persimmon to inspect their five year old property after reading about the story online. Barriers were found to be missing in this property alongside ‘stops and socks which prevent the spread of fire through walls and floors’.

This resident stated: ‘My house is like a chimney because if there was a fire it would spread pretty quick through it. It’s negligence by Persimmon Homes and the National House Building Council (NHBC) who have signed the property off. After our home failed the inspection a few days later they returned and they were put in place, but I’m also missing about 50 per cent around the windows. We have 20 odd windows and doors.’

The development has around 160 homes in it, with Devon Live of the belief that letters have been sent to other residents, while the home owner added: ‘I want to make everyone in the development aware of the issue so that they can get their home checked. As a national house builder, Persimmon Homes have a duty of care to ensure their homes are built correctly and I feel that this issue shows a lack of adhering to building regulations.

‘We have lived in our property since October 2013. All this time we have been at constant risk due to the required fire safety details not being installed. With children in the house whose bedrooms are both on the top floor, it makes this situation even more unbelievable.’

A spokesperson for Persimmon Homes responded: ‘The development as a whole is being inspected as part of the ongoing process. As Persimmon Homes has already confirmed it has committed to a thorough inspection process to ensure the required standards are met and is undertaking remedial work wherever the need is identified. Persimmon Homes has a dedicated team in place to deal with any remedial work that is required, and customers on any of our developments can make contact at any time if they have concerns.’

A spokesman for the NHBC added that it had not received ‘any contacts or claims concerning fire safety barriers’ at Lowen Bre, noting: ‘Any homeowners with an NHBC Buildmark policy who have concerns about this issue can contact our claims team who will be happy to provide them with advice and support. As the UK’s leading warranty provider we care passionately about the quality of new homes.

‘We work with builders to help them improve the construction quality of the homes they build for the benefit of our policyholders, the homeowners. NHBC’s inspection regime is not a replacement for the builder’s own quality control checks and obligations to build in accordance with building regulations.’