News

Two Edmonton towers face demolition over safety fears with hundreds of families affected

Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing sends letters to 350 households at Mendip House and Pennine House telling them decommissioning “is only way forward”, reports James Cracknell

Mendip House
Mendip House

Hundreds of families are set to be moved out of two Edmonton tower blocks after structural safety issues were discovered in both buildings – with “decommissioning” said to be the only option.

Mendip House and Pennine House – which stand above Edmonton Green Shopping Centre and rise to 25 storeys tall – “require significant structural strengthening work to meet current building safety regulations”.

This is according to a letter sent to all residents this week by landlord Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing (MTVH), which manages both tower blocks and last year commissioned a structural survey in response to new legislation on tall buildings.

Both towers were constructed in the late 1960s. Their method of construction, known as the ‘large panel system’, has since become notorious for causing long-term structural issues.

Each building contains 184 flats, with 350 families said to be currently living in them. All are one or two-bed flats.

While MTVH will be responsible for decommissioning the towers, the decision to demolish would still need to be made by owners Crosstree Real Estate Partners. Crosstree is currently drawing up plans to redevelop the shopping centre and build hundreds of new homes at the site.

In a statement issued today (Wednesday 20th), a spokesperson for MTVH said: “The results of this structural survey, and what it will mean for residents, has come as a huge shock and this is naturally a concerning time for these households.

“The safety of residents is MTVH’s priority, and we will respond to this situation with compassion, care, and collaboration to make the move to new homes as smooth a process as possible and support all residents throughout.”

A third Edmonton Green block, Grampian House, is owned by London and Quadrant (L&Q) Group. The Dispatch contacted L&Q to ask if there are similar problems with the building, but Pete Paton, head of strategic building safety at L&Q said: “The safety of residents is our top priority.

“We have carried out a number of surveys at Grampian House in recent years, including in 2016, 2021 and 2023, which have confirmed the building is structurally safe, and have recently shared this reassurance with residents. We’ll continue to work with residents to ensure they feel safe in their homes.

“Unlike its neighbouring blocks at Mendip and Pennine House, Grampian House was not built with a large panel system, a type of construction method which was popular in the 1960s. As a result, Grampian House does not have the same issues and L&Q will not be taking the same actions as Metropolitan Thames Valley, the landlord of Mendip and Pennine House.”

The Dispatch understands Grampian House, although it looks similar to the other two tower blocks at Edmonton Green, was built with a reinforced concrete frame, which means beams run through the building and support its structure.

A resident of Mendip House, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Dispatch that his building is occupied by older residents and by disabled people as a type of ‘later living’ accommodation.

He said: “There have been rumours about this [the building survey] going on for some time and I knew there were problems. They promised to do a mould wash and fix problems on the roof but it just never happened.

“Metropolitan hasn’t done a great job of keeping this place safe – in Mendip House the majority are aged 55+ or disabled, so I think a lot of people will be going into care homes. A lot of them do have carers coming in so I suspect that is the only option for them now.

“I moved here eight years ago and I thought I wouldn’t need to move again. I have lived in the borough all my life and my friends are here.”

MTVH says it has already begun an “an intensive engagement process with residents regarding their safety and that of their homes”.

The spokesperson continued: “In response to new responsibilities required of landlords by the Building Safety Act 2022, we commissioned detailed structural surveys of Mendip and Pennine House by specialist engineers Wilde Carter Clack.

“The surveys showed that while the buildings are safe to live in now, it is not a long-term solution.

“We regret this outcome which stems from issues with the large panel system (LPS) method these buildings were constructed with in the 1960s.

“Unfortunately, similar issues are being found at LPS buildings across the country, in Enfield alone three other buildings are being decommissioned in similar circumstances.”

The other three towers affected in the borough are Shropshire House and Cheshire House on the Shires Estate, and Walbrook House nearby. All are in Edmonton and are currently being decommissioned by Enfield Council with tenants being offered alternative homes – but the process has now been dragging on for over a year.

The Dispatch has asked the council to comment on how the news about Mendip House and Pennine House will affect the borough’s already very serious housing crisis, but has received no response.

Pennine House
Pennine House

The MTVH spokesperson continued: “This is a really difficult situation, and we appreciate this is a huge shock for residents who now face moving out of their homes. We would reiterate to residents that their homes are safe to live in until they move. 

“We are committed to supporting residents every step of the way as we work with them to explain what is happening, find good quality, warm, safe and energy efficient homes to move to, and then assist their moves in a structured and organised way. A dedicated team of full-time MTVH staff has been appointed to look after residents over the process. 

“We are focused on meeting our residents’ differing needs. For those whose first language is not English we will provide translations via the website and other means as needed. For those with vulnerabilities or health issues we will be working in collaboration with local health services, and organisations such as Age UK. 

“We are holding resident meetings to provide more details, answer questions and consult with residents on how they want the re-housing process to work. We have also launched a website with background information, have sent information packs to every resident, and we will follow up with regular communication.

“This is a very difficult situation, and we will make the move to new homes as smooth a process as possible and support all residents throughout. By investing in good quality, safe and warm homes we provide a good long-term solution for all residents rather than facing repeated issues at Mendip and Pennine House.”

This article has been updated to make clear that MTVH is the manager of the two towers but not the owner, and that it will be decommissioning the buildings. Demolition remains a very likely outcome once the towers have been emptied, but this would still need to be decided by Crosstree, the building’s owners.


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