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Urban Splash in hot water over leaking roof at Manchester HQ

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Urban Splash is embroiled in a row with residents at its award-winning Timber Wharf development in Manchester over a £1 million bill to fix serious leaks

The Glenn Howells Architects-designed, 181-flat building, which is also Urban Splash’s headquarters, was completed in 2002 but has been dogged by problems with water ingress.

The potential bill to repair a leaky flat roof on the eighth floor, together with remedial work to balcony and balustrade details on the sixth and seventh floors where water is also entering, could cost residents on average about £5,500 each.

In a letter from Mainstay, the company charged with managing the building, to an undisclosed resident, area property manager Kate Magill sets out the building’s problems and the courses of action available.

As well as a stinging attack on the National House Building Council (NHBC), whose 10-year insurance policy turned out not to cover flat roofs, Magill raised the possibility of suing Urban Splash, which also built the residential block through its now-defunct Urban Splash Projects arm.

Magill wrote: ‘Much consideration has been given to the possibility of taking legal action against US [Urban Splash] but we could go down this route and, whilst we may be successful, any such action could be the end of US, and then we would be left with the works still needing to be done and also large legal bills.’

In 2012 Urban Splash reported losses of £9 million, with overall debts of £234 million.

Magill went on to say that in an effort to resolve the situation Urban Splash founder Tom Bloxham had proposed selling off the building’s freehold for around £1 million to cover the repair bills. Residents would then be charged a ground rent.

At the time of writing Bloxham was not available for comment, but a Mainstay spokesman confirmed that ‘all options were being considered’.

In the letter to the resident, Magill also said investigations had concluded that ‘there were defects in the glass balustrades’ and a further ‘24 defects’ in the ‘detailing underneath the balcony doors’.

In a statement Glenn Howells Architects told the AJ: ‘We have not received a letter from the residents at Timber Wharf or know of any claim that the leaks are design related. We are aware of the leaks and sympathise with residents who have been affected by them. We understand that Urban Splash are actively working with Mainstay, the managing agents for the building, to resolve the matter.

We do not know of any claim that the leaks are design related

‘Glenn Howells Architects continues to work with Urban Splash and Mainstay and offer any assistance we can in helping them identify and resolve the problem.’

Mainstay’s position on the NHBC was also clearly set out: ‘I can advise that we have not yet ruled out legal action against NHBC,’ wrote Magill, ‘but we have to exhaust their in-house complaints procedure, which we have recently completed; and then we make formal application to the Financial Ombudsman.’

Quoted in local news wire Manchester Confidential , NHBC said it was ‘still currently involved in detailed investigations at this development to understand the location and reasons for the damage in order to assess whether we can be of assistance under the terms of the policy cover and will be contacting the managing agents shortly.’

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