Further homes inspected for fire safety issues

Further homes inspected for fire safety issues

PERSIMMON HOMES is now inspecting ‘hundreds’ of homes in Plymouth, whose residents had ‘initially’ been told that their properties ‘weren’t affected’ by missing compartmentation.

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. In turn, last month it was revealed that missing fire safety barriers had been confirmed in properties in Cornwall as well as Devon, and Plymouth Herald has now reported that homes in the town are being inspected for the same reason.

One resident stating that those living in the homes are ‘fearful for their safety’, adding that he lives on the Saltram Meadow estate, with homeowners and tenants told that homes were ‘not among’ those built without the barriers, but residents requested inspections of their homes anyway. On inspection, a number of residents had it confirmed that barriers had ‘in fact been missed out during construction’.

Persimmon has now confirmed it will inspect all 200 of the estate’s homes. The resident, an architectural industry professional, stated that the ‘most worrying’ point was that the properties had passed safety checks, adding: ‘Nothing was really said to us on our estate – supposedly we weren't affected but a couple of residents had their houses checked and it turns out we are.

‘Persimmon were treating them as isolated cases but more and more were checked and they found more barriers were missing. I just want to make people more aware. It is a shame that we were having to approach them – it should be the other way around. In all fairness they are quite accommodating to get it done.

‘With mine they booked an appointment and they were half an hour late. I work in architectural practice and the people who turned up for the appointment weren't very clued up on it. They were unable to complete the check at my property because they didn't have the correct equipment. I was talking to my wife asking her if we really want to go through the faff of getting them to check as we have already had our snagging appointment but the alternative is not knowing and could potentially affect the rest of the terrace.

He added: ‘The most worrying thing is that all these houses have been signed off by the building regulators. My professional point of view is that it beggars belief. If you missed that in a drawing we would be hung out to dry. In my personal point of view, I feel like it’s putting my family at risk and we are expecting our first child.

‘With a fire you hope it never will happen but when it does it is devastating, especially with the potential for it to spread. If you take Grenfell for example – it’s a big step up but it’s the same principal. It is just a big mess up – Persimmon are trying to sort it but they aren’t being very proactive.’

A spokesperson for Persimmon Homes stated: ‘We are continuing with our cavity barrier checks and can confirm that we will be inspecting all properties on the Saltram Meadow development. A dedicated team is in place to deal with any remedial works that are required.  We are continuing to communicate directly with customers with the objective of completing this work as soon as possible.’