Saturday, 18 March 2017

Catalyst Housing development Portobello Square 'won't last ten years' says workman

‘We create this space’
the advertisement says
Catalyst Housing Group boast of awards and expertise as workman says development ‘won’t last ten years’ 

In late 2014 a tenant moved from their former home on Wornington Green, North Kensington, around the corner to the new development of Portobello Square. The developer is Catalyst Housing Group, the architects PRP and the contractor is Ardmore Construction.

The top floor flat had nice views and was suitable for the disabled tenant’s needs. However over the very wet winter that followed the ceiling leaked into the living room, several times. 

That was eventually fixed and the ceiling repainted, but then there was damp coming into the bedroom through the walls. It was discovered that no membrane had been fitted and that was why the damp was seeping through. This was also remediated.

This was now concerning the tenant who is quite unwell and immune compromised, so susceptible to bacterial, viral and fungal infections, having previously suffered tuberculosis and aspergillosis caused by black mould, where the mould actually grows inside the lungs.

A further issue arose when the toilet was not flushing properly. After several visits workmen had to break through the wall to reach the cistern. It was found that an instruction leaflet had been left inside, partially blocking the pipe.

It was then found that the laminate floor was beginning to buckle in places, creating a potential trip hazard.

In early February this year another problem arose – there was water leaking upwards between ceramic tiles in the bathroom floor. At first the tenant was accused of being a messy bather, or of not using the shower curtain. Then it was discovered that the seal between the tiles was leaking. 

When some tiles were removed it was realised that there was a leak coming from pipes below the bath. Workmen removed the tiles and left the floor temporarily bare to dry out, before returning to replace with lino.

Two days later, the disabled tenant stepped into the bathroom, and the floor collapsed. They were lucky not to break their ankle. They contacted Catalyst once again but at the time of writing had not received a response.

Councillor Emma Dent Coad has been helping this tenant, who wishes to remain anonymous, throughout the process. Emma says: ‘It doesn’t bear thinking about what could have happened when the floor collapsed. It could have been so much worse. The bathroom floor is now covered in black mould and has a huge hole in it. I am simply appalled at the very poor construction quality of this flat which is endangering the health of a very poorly and disabled person who deserves better.’

Councillor Dent Coad says that she has had innumerable reports of problems in the new flats, ranging from damp, leaks and dodgy electrics to two actual ceiling collapses. She says: ‘This floor collapse is an alarming new departure. I have contacted Environmental Health and Catalyst, but I can’t help worrying that if this happens again there could be a very nasty accident. These buildings are barely three years old. One day I met a workman who had come to repair a problem in one of the flats. He told me that in his opinion this block won’t last ten years. Given the cost of these flats - £620,000 for a one bedroom apartment – people must be told what is going on here.’

Catalyst Housing Group have won awards for Portobello Square:

They say Portobello Square is: 

In reality this is the quality of workmanship: 

You may ask yourself if a totally untrained apprentice was given the job of finishing off the laminate floors. 

You would be quite wrong. 

Rumour has it that the new apprentice was given at least two hours' training. Then sent off to finish the entire block. 

Now that can't be true, can it?


  1. Are you really surprised Emma when we all know that the least money is spent on residents. I wonder if the private people know this. Should be on Facebook as with all respect more people would see it!

  2. am almost 100% certain those awards were brought!

  3. Interestingly - and I have challenged this - awards are based on 'design' not on the built outcome. I still can't see how they won anything however!

  4. This is a slum of the not very distant future. Same thing happening in Ealing and doubtless other London boroughs. The rush to catch up on 40 years of neglect of the need for affordable housing is so great, anything is thrown up. Literally.

  5. And now this fire. Sort it out wonderful Labour !!!


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