Friday, 9 August 2013

Myth vs Reality at ‘Portobello Square’/Wornington Green: some clarity please!

Wet, wonky, unfinished, but they moved people in anyway

Why would anyone wish to buy a flat in this block to rent out at £560/week?

Here is a mystery: Catalyst Housing employed Mansells to demolish and subsequently, they anticipated, to build ‘Portobello Square’ on Wornington Green, the thoroughly stigmatised and then ‘re-visioned’ North Kensington estate we know and love. As you may have read in previous blogs, Mansells were then removed from the job and the ‘more economic’ Ardmore brought in to build Phase 1.

Click to see open joints and dodgy bits
While one advisor from Planning Aid called Wornington Green ‘a model of community cohesion’, and Nick Johnson then of Urban Splash said ‘it would be a crime to knock this down’, a very different story was put about by PR/branding/marketing crew Philosophy Design. Philosophy claim they are responsible for ‘community engagement marketing to existing affordable tenants’ (whatever that means and I think we can guess),but instead they sideline residents, and seem more interested in stating as fact the myth that the rude and disdainful Stella McCartney (now thankfully disappeared from the neighbourhood) ‘discovered’ the ‘lost neighbourhood of Golborne’, and getting such utter nonsense in the press.

It is true that stuff happens (a very rare but horrific triple stabbing last weekend which for mysterious reasons didn’t get into the press) and may happen more frequently now the ‘new policing formula’ is in place. However, Golborne is a poor but friendly, quirky and interesting family neighbourhood where the crime rate is very low and – possibly because - everybody knows everybody, or at least they do up to now.

The lintel is supposed to be flush
We had trouble with Ardmore. We had trouble with rude and uncooperative workmen, for several months. They ignored the Traffic Management Plan and did as they pleased, until we formed a human chain across the road and began to film them doing dodgy manoeuvres, such as hoiking portocabins over a row of cars. Then they behaved themselves for a bit.

Ardmore, as already alleged, were squeezed on the build cost. Then, some say, they squeezed on the staffing cost; employees are said to be unskilled labourers rather than skilled workers, and the degree of problems that have arisen may confirm this. Despite all this, Catalyst are now squeezing them even further on the timescale.

We are told it won't fall off,
but neither can this be fixed
Then something mysterious happened to the build quality (see four previous blogs plus more pics here). And we have just been informed that some of the plans agreed via the legally binding Planning process may not have been kept to. These may seem like minor picky issues, but once you add them up, plus the leaks and the floods and the damp and the snags and the blatantly poor quality that is there for all to see (eg, softwood rather than hardwood used for lock-up doors), this adds up to something very concerning indeed.

Despite all this, we are told all the private flats and houses have been sold by Hamptons International. Today FIVE of the flats in the Bonchurch Road block are being marketed for RENT by Hamptons International; some say they may be getting double bonus fees for selling then renting so why would they care that they are marketing ‘shoddy and leaking’ homes? Two bed flats cost £560/wk, one beds cost £500/week.


£2,275 PCM
Brand New! A stunning two double bedroom apartment with the Portobello Square Development. The apartment benefits from its own balcony, two double bedrooms and two...

Evidently I’m missing something. Whatever could it be?

Any ideas, anyone?

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