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RSHP hit by £5 million legal claim over Oxley Woods homes

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Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners is to ‘vigorously’ defend itself against a £5 million legal claim in the High Court over major and ongoing technical problems with its ground-breaking Oxley Woods housing scheme

Taylor Wimpey, the builder behind the Manser Medal-winning development in Milton Keynes, issued the claim – worth £5 million plus interest – against RSHP and Oxley Woods’ MMC contractor Coxbench and its former incarnation, Wood Newton.

The claim, issued in the High Court’s Technology and Construction branch, alleges possible breach of contract, duty of care, statutory duty and possible negligence on the part of the firms ‘in relation to the design and construction of the development’.

Back in May, AJ revealed that the 122-home Oxley Woods – which was completed from prefabricated components in 2007 as part of the last government’s Design for Manufacture competition – was suffering from serious water leakage problems, causing supporting timbers, balconies, roofs, window junctions and the boarding and frame behind cladding to rot (AJ 15.05.14).

It is understood that homes there are now undergoing wide-ranging remedial works, including replacement of roofs and windows as part of a phased programme undertaken by Taylor Wimpey and overseen by insurer the National House Building Council (NHBC), whose 10-year Buildmark warranty covers the houses.

A spokesman for the FTSE 250-listed housebuilder said carrying out this programme to the satisfaction of affected residents was its ‘primary focus’, adding:  ‘It is our view that the issues have been caused by a combination of various design features unique to this scheme and the poor performance of contractors in the design and construction process.’

A spokeswoman for RSHP said:  ‘Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners can confirm a writ has been issued by Taylor Wimpey against RSHP, Wood Newton Developments Ltd and Coxbench Manufacturing Ltd and that RSHP will defend the claim vigorously. Further comment would not be appropriate at this stage.’

Coxbench/Wood Newton was unavailable for comment.

The NHBC said it was working with all 122 homeowners and had now received 19 individual insurance claims from residents. Its chief executive, Mike Quinton, said: ‘NHBC is wholly committed to working with both the homeowners and Taylor Wimpey to ensure that the issues at Oxley Woods are resolved as quickly as possible with a comprehensive remedial programme.

‘Since becoming aware of the full scale of the issues at Oxley Woods, NHBC has taken a number of considerable steps to respond to concerns of the homeowners and to provide them with reassurance. This has included the extension of our Buildmark insurance cover for all homes on the Oxley Woods development by eight years following the date of completion of the repairs to each home.’

In a separate development this week, the planning inspector rejected an appeal by Taylor Wimpey for a more traditional second phase of Oxley Woods by St Albans-based designer CMYK.

Planning inspector Michael Boniface said the proposed 26-home scheme would ‘harm the character of the immediate area’ and would be in ‘stark contrast’ to RSHP’s existing development.

Previous story (AJ 15.05.14)

What went wrong at Oxley Woods?

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I don't understand the use of the word 'possible' in the above context. Surely the Claimant alleges breach of Contract, etc, which the Respondent will deny ? They are not going to Court to let someone else discover the truth, are they; they surely expect to demonstrate it, don't they ?

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