“Families forced to evacuate their homes because they could collapse have accused one of the country’s biggest builders of abandoning them while it paid executives millions of pounds in bonuses.
Residents of Philmont Court, a four-storey block of flats built in Coventry just 11 years ago, said they felt betrayed by developer Persimmon after more than a decade of problems with their properties.
They have been forced into temporary accommodation while repair work takes place after experts warned extreme winds could cause the building to partially collapse.
The alarming problem was only discovered when builders were called in to fix defects with insulation throughout the 48 apartments, which residents say have caused widespread damp and mould. One resident claimed the conditions have caused her seven-year-old son to develop breathing problems.
There were also complaints about guttering, noise, the plumbing and electrics – but despite repeated pleas for help over ten years, Persimmon has refused to deal directly with the residents.
The situation is a further embarrassment for the company after it paid its top three executives £104 million last year. Jeff Fairburn, the chief executive, was paid £47 million alone.
He last week flounced out of a television interview when asked about the payout. The 52-year-old is under pressure to give up his massive bonuses and for the company to provide compensation to the residents in Tile Hill, Coventry.
Geoffrey Robinson, MP for Coventry North West, said: ‘For Jeff Fairburn and Persimmon to treat these residents in this way, many who are first-time buyers, is utterly scandalous. If he had any compassion, he would compensate my constituents.’
Hayley MacSkimming-Barnett said a bedroom used by her children Lydia, ten, and Cameron, eight, had been severely affected by mould. The 34-year-old interior designer said: ‘There was mould growing up the bedroom walls, in the wardrobes, under the children’s mattresses and on their teddy bears. But every time we raised it we were told there was nothing wrong with the building.
‘My son has developed chest problems and during every winter we have had to take him to hospital because his airway has closed up.
‘Persimmon built these homes and it should accept responsibility. The bosses wouldn’t live somewhere like that – and I’m sure their children don’t have to sleep on mouldy mattresses.’
Philmont Court was built in 2007 by Westbury, a company owned by Persimmon.
But soon after moving in, residents began to complain of condensation and mould. Landlord Whitefriars, which bought the building, told them they were not airing the flats properly. In 2016 inspections were finally carried out and problems with insulation around windows were discovered.
Under a warranty which applies to most new homes, industry body the National House Building Council (NHBC) was called in to fix the problems. But builders discovered even more serious structural problems and residents were moved into temporary accommodation in May this year and repair work began in August.
Resident Hannah Perch said the ordeal had ruined the experience of buying her first home.
The 27-year-old teacher said: ‘The idea of the Persimmon executives getting paid these bonuses makes me livid.’ …”