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Persimmon Homes admits new builds at Timperley Place in Deal are missing fire safety barriers

By Eleanor Perkins

A homeowner has accused developers of negligence after the housebuilding giant admitted properties are missing vital fire safety barriers.

Residents of Timperley Place in Deal received a letter from Persimmon Homes last Wednesday warning that some timber framed properties there have not had cavity barriers correctly installed at roof level.

Cavity barriers, made from flexible fireproof sponge, should be used to conceal voids between the brick and frame of a house and are designed to inhibit the spread of fire.

Persimmon is currently building 70 more homes, in addition to 230 already constructed
Persimmon is currently building 70 more homes, in addition to 230 already constructed

The company says it wants to carry out checks to ensure these are "isolated incidents".

So far 13 home owners have claimed their properties failed to meet the required standard in safety tests, as residents shared the results of their inspection on a private Facebook group.

One resident said they had passed the test.

Persimmon says it will not comment on the results while investigations are ongoing.

Householders received this letter last Wednesday from Persimmon
Householders received this letter last Wednesday from Persimmon

The revelation comes after a blaze ravaged two homes in Cornfield Row last April and caused damage to a third.

The incident prompted concerns over how quickly the flames took hold.

One home owner, who asked not to be named, said he had raised concerns with the developers and had his separate fire safety concerns rectified before Persimmon's letter dropped through their door.

He said: "This is negligence. If you miss out these sorts of regulations then these timber framed houses are death traps.

"Who is signing these houses off? Somebody has been missing out these vital safety measures."

The devastating fire in Cornfield Row in April 2018. Picture: Bliss Wilson
The devastating fire in Cornfield Row in April 2018. Picture: Bliss Wilson
Timperley Place in Deal
Timperley Place in Deal

This home owner is urging all Persimmon householders to have their houses checked and not worry about how it could affect the value of their homes.

The test involves removing some bricks, or in some cases render, from the outside of a property and using a small camera such as a borescope to see if the cavity barriers are present.

Persimmon Homes has told the Mercury that the issues of "missing" or "incorrectly installed cavity barriers" was uncovered last October in the South West region.

They say as soon as the issue came to light, they launched an investigation to identify the extent of the problem in all of its timber framed properties in the country and to immediately rectify any affected properties.

Cavity barriers are designed to seal against fire and smoke
Cavity barriers are designed to seal against fire and smoke

A spokesperson for Persimmon Homes said: “We are taking this very seriously and have taken extensive action since the issue was discovered. To date, we have written to c. 4,000 home owners in the South West region to inform them of the issue and to arrange inspection of their property.

“A dedicated team has been established to carry out the inspections and to deal with any remedial work, which is normally carried out immediately and typically takes less than an hour. We have performed c. 5,000 inspections to date. The process of notifying home owners and arranging inspections is ongoing. While investigations are live we are not in a position to advise of the results

“We have established a dedicated national helpline number - 0800 915 0980 - which any homeowner with a concern can call for more information and to arrange an inspection of their property.

“This should not have happened and we would like to apologise to all affected homeowners and assure them that we are doing everything we can to rectify the issue swiftly.

The fire ravaged home in Cornfield Row remains under reconstruction
The fire ravaged home in Cornfield Row remains under reconstruction

"We are taking this very seriously, we have a clear action plan in place and we are addressing the problem in a structured manner.

“It is important to highlight that cavity barriers are only one part of a suite of measures in place in every new built home to ensure fire safety, including smoke alarms, escape routes, fire retardant materials and measures to support the fire and rescue service. All of these are important. We have taken independent expert advice on the issue from a fire safety specialist and they have confirmed that the action we are taking is appropriate."

The first families moved into the 230-home site in Deal in 2016 and further permission was given for another 70 homes on farmland by Hyton Drive in November 2018.

Developers remain on site.

Deal and Dover MP Charlie Elphicke said: “I am deeply concerned and have taken this up with the developers. There have been continual issues – with people complaining to me about the quality of the whole scheme.

“However inadequate fire proofing is another matter entirely. We cannot have a situation where hard-working families have spent their hard-earned savings on homes that are not built to an acceptable standard and could even be at risk of burning down.

"The developers must come back with a plan of action to guarantee that all homes are safe as a matter of urgency.”

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