Luxury flats in top location impossible to sell due to construction problem

More than 332 city centre flats are "worthless" and "impossible to sell" due to fire safety concerns, an owner of one of the apartments claims.

A block of modern flats above Cardiff's St David's shopping centre failed to achieve "an adequate standard of safety" following a survey in November 2020, leaving a homeowner feeling trapped.

The homes were built over 2007 and 2008 as part of what has become a successful retail development but their popular location is not enough to flog them, claims resident Chris White.

Chris told WalesOnline that he has owned an apartment at the Hayes since 2013, and recently put it up for sale for £175,000 but has found it impossible to shift.

The building's External Wall System Fire Review certificate, more commonly known as an EWS1, looks at the outside wall of a residential building and includes cladding as well as insultation, firebreak systems and cavity barriers.

The certificate for the Hayes, which was awarded following a survey in November 2020, came with a B2 rating, meaning it contains combustible materials so "an adequate standard of safety is not achieved".

Construction worker says has been in locked in a battle with building owners Landsec, since February.

Amid changing government standards, Landsec have now conducted another assessment into the external wall system at the Hayes, but are still yet to update leaseholders on their findings.

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However, while they have apologised to Chris and others for the lengthy assessment process, they have said that there are no life safety concerns across the entire block of flats.

Chris said: "It’s just incredible that this is happening here. Here we are above the busiest shopping centre in Wales. If we were somewhere way out of the city, it may not be as remarkable.

"But it’s unbelievable when it’s above a flagship shopping centre like St David’s, where thousands of people go every week.

"I couldn't believe it when I found out about the B2 rating, it is really shocking. I'm not an expert in these matters, but when I was told about it, I did some research and realised that with that rating, I was very unlikely to get a mortgage.

"I'm wanting to sell this flat, but instead I'm being told it's essentially worthless.

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"The lack of action to try and resolve this has been appalling, really. Landsec are sitting around doing nothing in my opinion.

"It's not just an issue that affects me, either. It applies to everything that's sat above St David's 2, and that is an awful lot of property, because for one single building, this is absolutely huge."

A spokesperson for Landsec said: "The safety and wellbeing of our residents is of paramount importance and we will always take fire safety incredibly seriously.

"We have undertaken a comprehensive fire risk assessment on the building and independent fire safety engineers have confirmed there are no life safety concerns at The Hayes.

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"It’s important to note that the EWS1 process is there to support the financial industry to make a judgement on whether to lend against specific properties – it is does not look at the fire safety of an entire building as the comprehensive risk assessment does.

"We are also working closely with the building’s original contractor to determine any additional surveys or remediation works that may (or may not) need to take place in light of the Government’s new code of practice.

"We know that this has been a difficult time for some leaseholders and apologise for any frustration they feel over the time this is taking. We are in dialogue with residents and expect to have further updates in the coming weeks.”

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