WORK to remove potentially dangerous cladding from a Basingstoke apartment block has been delayed again and will not start for at least another eight months.

Residents at Crown Heights were initially told that work to remove the cladding on the block would start in September this year.

The date was then pushed back to November. Now, residents are facing another lengthy wait after being told the work will not start until at July 2024.

The external cladding at Crown Heights, which has around 250 flats, contains the flammable material ‘expanded polystyrene’ and features no fire breaks.

It means the building is at risk of being engulfed if a fire broke out, similar to the tragedy that happened at Grenfell Tower in 2017.

READ MORE: Crown Heights residents unable to open windows properly during cladding removal work

Basingstoke Gazette:

Residents have been stuck living in the potentially dangerous building, unable to sell their properties until the work is complete.

They were told by their management company, FirstPort Limited, that the work is likely to start in July 2024.

In a letter sent to residents and seen by the Gazette, FirstPort explained that the delay is because of new government requirements coming into force in April 2024.

As of April next year, Building Safety Regulator (BSR) will oversee the safety and standards of buildings and will regulate high-rise buildings.

This means that the work to Crown Heights, if less than 15 per cent complete by April, would need to be stopped for eight to 12 weeks with the scaffolding remaining in place for the duration, while developer Barratt retrospectively registers the work with BSR.

SEE ALSO: Crown Heights residents can open windows by 'up to' 10cm during cladding removal work

Jean Pattison, a 55-year-old carer who has lived in Crown Heights since 2015, said Barratt – the original developer of the building which has agreed to pay for the work – has known about BSR “for years”.

She added: “It has been known from the outset that the Government would take over building control from local authorities in 2024 for years. It wasn’t a surprise that crept up on Barratt. Barratt didn’t step up until the Government forced them to, delaying the cladding replacement by years.

“It would be done by now if Barratt had just replaced the cladding the minute it was identified because it was the right thing to do, but they hung on until the last minute until the government forced them to.”

She said residents have “no idea what has been causing the delay” since work was meant to start in September, adding: “Every month they said that they were on track. Then suddenly it came to light that they could not complete 15 per cent of the work before the April 1 deadline for the government to take over building control.

“Instead of rushing to get it done, they have decided to delay.”

READ ALSO: Full list of Basingstoke play parks to be upgraded as part of £400k project

Jean said residents have been told that the work will start in July and finish in March 2025, and that an area used by children to play will no longer be used to store materials.

She added: “Barratt said that they are delaying starting so that we are not trapped wrapped in sheeting with our windows barely opening and our balconies locked for an additional 12 or so weeks while they have to down tools.

"They also say that they have found another firm who can start in July and still finish in March 2025 and they will store the scaffold and materials on the scaffold, not in the centre podium which is exactly what I asked for originally which I was told was impossible.”

However, she is sceptical about the information, and said: “It may be a way for Barratt to appease the residents about the delay but we can only live in hope.”

A spokesperson for Barratt Developments said: “As we confirmed at last month’s residents’ meeting, scaffolding and enabling works will start on site in July 2024.

“We are moving as quickly as we can and are just as keen as residents for work to begin soon. We apologise for the inconvenience these important building works will cause and will continue to make sure everyone is kept up to date with their progress through monthly residents’ meetings and working closely with the managing agents.”