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Housing Association launches legal case over ‘poorly designed’ student housing

CJCT's Paragon student housing scheme in west London
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A housing association has launched a legal case against Carey Jones Chapman Tolcher (CJCT) over its role in the design of student accommodation in west London, the AJ understands

Notting Hill Genesis said a review had uncovered an ‘unacceptably poor level of design’ on the practice’s Paragon scheme in Brentford.

CJCT designed the 1,060-unit Paragon residential blocks for a partnership between developer Berkeley First and Thames Valley University – now the University of West London – more than 10 years ago.

Also playing major roles on the award-winning £100 million scheme were roofing firm Churchmore, offsite manufacturer Caledonian and cladding subcontractor Deepdale Solutions.

Caledonian’s website said the scheme consisted of five blocks up to 17 storeys tall, and was ‘thought to be the tallest modular building in the world in 2007’.

But Notting Hill Genesis – which acquired the building and manages the accommodation through its Paragon Student Lets arm – last year began looking for companies to repair what it said were defects on the building’s exterior.

Now it is understood that CJCT, Churchmore, Caledonian and Deepdale Solutions have all been notified of a legal case against them over the project.

A Notting Hill Genesis spokesperson said: ‘We can confirm we have issued proceedings against four of the developer’s subcontractors involved in the design and construction of our Paragon blocks in Brentford.

‘Last year we launched an OJEU procurement process related to defects in the external façade and how that façade is attached to the building. At the time we stated that we would not be seeking recourse from the builders and designers at Paragon.

‘However, since then further investigations have revealed what we feel is an unacceptably poor level of design and workmanship – to the extent that we are duty bound to try and recover costs from the companies involved.

‘As a housing association, any surplus we have goes into providing more homes for Londoners who need them. As such, any money we spend repairing work carried out by others is money that could be otherwise spent on affordable housing.

‘That said, we are committed to carrying out the work as soon as possible and this claim will not delay that process. The safety of our residents and their visitors is paramount.’

CJCT – which has removed the scheme from its website – Churchmore, Caledonian and Deepdale Solutions have all been contacted for comment.

Berkeley First is not involved in the legal action and declined to comment. The University of West England is not believed to be involved in the legal action but has also been contacted for comment.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • The 'defects in the external facade' are not specified, and neither are the other problems that have been discovered, or for that matter the architect's contractual relationships with client and builder - but does the timescale - 'more than ten years ago' - and (inter alia) the Edinburgh schools scandal - strengthen the notion that the 'race to the bottom' has been going on for some time?

    As the housing association says, money spent on repairs is money that could have helped finance affordable housing.

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