Vision vs reality on Seren Park

One of the most useful things to do as a councillor is to go and see a problem for yourself, rather than rely on what you are being told. In particular it is always instructive to go back to a new housing development once it has been occupied, and compare the reality with the glossy CGIs that were shown to the planning committee when planning permission was given, and see what lessons can be learnt.

Two weeks ago I went to meet some residents at Leamington Court, a “new” block just off Vanbrugh Hill (though it is actually an old block from he early 1970s which has been reclad and remodelled, with a new timber facade).
The block was given planning permission about four years ago but building work only finished about a year ago. In many ways it is a good development, with a mix of affordable rented homes and shared-ownership homes for those on higher incomes in Leamington Court. A larger block next door (not yet completed) is largely private flats, but there are also some affordable homes in there too.

The overall development is called Seren park (Seren is Welsh for ‘star’, apparently ) and is just to the south of Maze Hill station – the best way to have a good gander is from a passing train. Along with other labour councillors, I have been pushing the railways for several years to get a proper gate from the new development onto Maze Hill station, to avoid the big detour via the Vanbrugh Hill footbridge. Progress has been promised soon, but the residents I met two weeks ago had more immediate concerns.

Why is it that brand new housing so often has snagging problems? The block is fairly clean inside and many of the flats have great views over Greenwich, and London beyond. But there was a two-day period two weeks ago when residents had no hot water. Due to a malfunctioning fire safety system, several floors had an irritating alarm beeping away 24 hours a day on the landings when I first went to visit. There is also a general perception that the block has needed a lot of repairs since it was built, and these have not always been carried out to a high standard.

Moat, the housing association concerned, has to its credit promised to deal with the problems quickly and when I visited block again with David and Pat last week the hot water was working again and the beeping alarm had stopped. I hope the more deep-rooted problems get sorted out soon, as this block should be a great place to live in for both the tenants and those in the shared ownership flats. We will be keeping a close watch and maintaining pressure on Moat if needed.

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2 Responses to Vision vs reality on Seren Park

  1. Victoria jenkins says:

    Dear Alex

    I find it really interesting that you wrote this last year, when in fact I attended a residents association meeting last night and the first item on the agenda was the access to the station platform. It is beyond a joke now that almost two years after I personally moved into Seren Park Gardens, we still do not have access to the platform at Maze Hill even though a path and two gates have been built. Are you still involved in this? Could you be involved? We really need some help in sorting this out as a lot of residents are really angry that they have been mis-sold flats with the promise that a shorter entry route to the station would be theirs and quite clearly this is still not the case. The latest I have been told is that Network rail are demanding a figure from Urban Solutions (the developer) that Urban Solutions are not prepared to pay. I find it utterly disgraceful that no doubt a premium was added to the cost of each flat sold because of the tempting perk that was a 5 minute walk to the nearest transport as opposed to a 10 – 15 minute walk to the station. Having an access path that is padlocked is like dangling a carrot in our faces. Surely if this path is never to be opened we should be given a refund on the cost of our flats? Would Urban Solutions rather pay us that back or Network Rail? Either way i am sure that most residents care how they do it, they just want the access path that they were promised to be opened and especially before the ice and snow sets in. Many residents have mobility issues – are they expected to get up an icy hill and back down in order to get to the station?

    I do hope you can help us.

    • Alex Grant says:

      Dear Victoria Jenkins

      Thanks for your message – sorry I have only just picked this up. Since you wrote in October there has been a photocall at Seren Park with residents to get the press interested in this issue, and a large number of emails and letters from residents, councillors, and our MP Nick Raynsford to the developer and Network Rail urging them to sort this out.

      I have heard today that agreemet may have finally been reached – and will be following this up and asking when the path will finally open. I agree it is madness it has taken years for this to be resovled.

      Alex Grant

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