Major Works Dickens Estate

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Monday 15 July 2013 11.09pm
Dear All,

I know I don't live in SE1 anymore but there is no forum on the SE16 community website and we are all at the mercy of Southwark Council I thought you might still be able to help!

I bought my flat in Nickleby House of Dickens estate a year ago. I was fully aware major works were planned involving a new roof, concrete repair, brickwork repairs, possible asphalt to balconies and lateral mains, as listed in the management pack supplied by Southwark Council.

I received a letter stating an application has been made for "The application of grey/white insulated render to all elevations and the installation of replacement doors/windows in upvc".

The plans can be seen at

I have no objection to the new front doors, as some in the block don't look that energy efficient or secure.

However I do object to the rendering and therefore will be contacting the council during the consultation period.

My reasons for objection are:
1) "External wall finish" to Nickleby house is not marked as requiring work on the planned Warm Dry Safe programme approved by Cabinet in Oct 2011 - therefore where has this sudden need to render the whole block come from?
2) The Energy Performance Certificate for my flat estimates the addition of external wall insulation will result in a typical saving of 130 per year. However I suspect my major works bill for the rendering will run into thousands making this investment very uneconomical financially.
3)The flat's Energy Efficiency Rating is currently band D, one band better than the national average which is E. So I don't believe it is of pressing concern. Also having lived in the flat through the last Winter I do not consider it to be inefficient in terms of losing heat.
3) There will be ongoing costs associated with the block being rendered as it will require regular painting, making it an even less economical investment.
4) I think the block is currently rather handsome with its brickwork, and in-keeping with the other buildings nearer the river not on the estate. It is a lovely 1930s building and I really cannot imagine it looking anywhere near as nice once it is covered (apart from the external walls of the balconies and stairwell) in new white render (which wont stay white for long!).

My questions to you dear SE1-ers are:
A) Has anybody else had their block rendered? If so what figure am I looking at for the major works bill? Also which block? so I can go and look at it to get an idea of what I may end up with!
B) Has anybody has any success in getting any applications rejected during the consultation period? If so any tips?
C) Can anybody think of any other facts or reasons which may support my objection?

Many thanks!
Monday 22 July 2013 9.07am
You have a leaseholders representative office at Southwark Boro' council, who are completely on the side of the council. For years myself and others have tried to reason with this council. Massive contracts are given to the SAME contractors over and over, even though complaints are rife. We are currently undergoing major works on the St Saviours state.

An example is - 2012 lift refurbishment required - Approx 600 charged to leaseholders - 2013 - MORE lift refurbishment - cost to leaseholders Approx 6,000. Lift is now in worse condition than before..

THe contractor chosen has been complained about over and over at different sites, and yet still manages to 'win' the next contract when it comes up.

Some on this estate have even employed a private surveyor and are taking the findings to LVT.

I have had year of stress fighting this council and can only wish you the best of luck with your dealings with this council.

Also worth knowing that government grants are probably one of the main reasons for SBC trying to say how much work is to be done.
Thursday 10 October 2013 6.19pm
Looks like the estate-wide rendering/insulation programme is a result of British Gas seeking likely candidates for free energy-saving measures. Something it's committed to do within some Government/Energy Retailer agreement.

So in theory there wouldn't be a charge for these works to the council and consequently no share of costs to leaseholders. Which is good news. (not sure about your new doors and windows though - that element could be chargeable I guess. But if there's no section 20 notice in play so far you'll get one if they intend to charge and then have ample time to object to that separately.)

However... your other points are still valid. If British Gas contractors create problems (think about all the external fittings that would ned to be messed with. Pipes, lights, cables, etc.) then obviously the council would have to pick up the bill to make good. Ditto the on-going maintenance - render is a lot more costly than raw brickwork to keep in good nick - even if it's just a new coat of paint every few years. And leaseholders will get their share of those bills .

Yes - its going to look ugly. But it's the council's building so they can do what they want within planning constraints. So objections on grounds of the look will be best made during the planning stage. After that it'll be un uphill struggle to stop the council doing what it wants - especially since they're not charging you. Write to councillors and get them to call the project in for discussion.

Southwark are being quite cute by applying for planning on a block by block basis. A 'divide and rule' tactic. So don't just object to plans for your particular block - make sure you raise the same objections for each application in the neighbourhood. If you don't, the applications could easily all pass without anyone considering the overall effect on the area generally.
Thursday 31 October 2013 11.37am
What with the demolition of Dockhead fire station, and now the rendering of all these brick buildings, the character of Dockhead is going to be seriously impacted.

Has anyone considered opening up the issue to a more general 'Save Dockhead!' Campaign? Shad Thames is a shining example of why, and I'm sure general consensus in the wider area would be the brick buildings of the Dickens Estate complement Mill Street and Bermondsey Wall West, and the inevitable modern private developments coupled with improving the slightly run down post war concrete blocks makes sense for the future of the area.

Could the Localism Act help common sense prevail?

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