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Beetham Tower’s owners must pay up for repairs, court rules

Shutterstock beetham tower simpsonhaugh
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The High Court has told the owner of the Ian Simpson Architects-designed Beetham Tower it must pay for structural repairs to the landmark building

A judge ruled that North West Ground Rents (NWGR) must compensate the leaseholder, Blue Manchester, for costs incurred repairing the 2006 building’s façade.

The case centred on the failure of structural sealant on several of the building’s 1,300 shadow box units and the effectiveness of remedial work carried out previously by contractor Carillion, which is now in liquidation.

Real estate investment trust Ground Rents Income Fund – the parent company of the building owner – insisted in its 2018 annual report that it had taken legal advice regarding the claim which indicated it was ‘unlikely that any significant liability will arise’.

But in a report to the stock market last week, the parent company admitted the court had found in favour of Hilton hotel operator Blue Manchester.

‘The building is in disrepair and Blue Manchester is entitled to an order for specific performance that permanent remedial works be designed and implemented,’ added the Ground Rents Income Fund statement.

It said the provisional view of the court was to allow 18 months for the works to be completed on the 169m-tall building.

Further payments were ordered with respect to hoardings left up from earlier works and the release of dirty water into the water supply of the building due to lack of maintenance, the statement added.

NWGR was ordered to pay Blue Manchester £250,000 within 28 days, with the final balance to be determined at a future date.

Ground Rents Income Fund said: ‘There are a range of potential next steps which NWGR could take, which include pursuing the proceedings which it has already issued against the original contractor’s insurers and the subcontractor through existing warranties and indemnities, which, if successful, would limit any potential liabilities or irrecoverable losses for NWGR. The proceedings have been issued against the contractor’s insurers because the contractor was Carillion, now in liquidation.

‘NWGR continues to seek advice on the nature of the remedial works required to comply with the judgment and their associated cost.

‘NWGR will evaluate what the next actions and consequences of the judgement may be. NWGR is reliant on the financial support of Ground Rents Income Fund to finance further legal action and to comply with the judgement. The company continues to review its own obligations in regard to NWGR and its obligations under the judgement.’

SimpsonHaugh (formerly Ian Simpson Architects) declined to comment on the case. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by the practice.

The 47-storey building is no stranger to controversy. Ian Simpson apologised seven years ago for ’distress’ caused by the noise made by wind action on the tower, following numerous attempts to solve the problem.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • '....the release of dirty water into the water supply of the building due to the lack of maintenance....' is surely a remarkable statement for any building owner to have to make - let alone one that has 'trust' in its name - unless there's doubt about who's responsible for the building maintenance.
    But, in any case, do the mechanical services embody a 'fail dangerous' water supply?

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