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HOMESWAP HELL IN SALFORD
 

Star date: 19th October 2010 

MY EIGHT YEARS OF HELL IN A CHIMNEY POT PARK HOMESWAP

In 2003 Mrs Breen was moved out of her house in Chimney Pot Park to make way for the Urban Splash regeneration project. But while the new people living in her old house enjoy the upside down terrace lifestyle, Mrs Breen has had eight years of hardship in a Homeswap house across Langworthy Road.

She was promised heaven. She got hell…

Full story here…


HOMESWAP HELL IN SALFORD HOMESWAP HELL IN SALFORD
click image to enlarge

"I can honestly say that my old house was in a lot better condition than this one." Mrs Breen

There's damp coming through the walls in the lounge and the bedroom, the kitchen's so bad three sets of units have rotted. And it's still not sorted. For pensioner Mrs Breen it's been eight years of worry, inconvenience and expense. Welcome to Salford Council's award winning, flagship Homeswap scheme.

For many years Mrs Breen lived in Fir Street, Langworthy. She owned her home, had loads of work done on it and even added an extra bedroom. Then, around ten years ago, she was told that it was being demolished to make way for an extension to Chimney Pot Park.

Her house never was demolished. Instead, like 349 other Victorian terraces, it  was handed over to Urban Splash by Salford Council together with over £20million of public money to become re-born as one of the infamous `upside down' houses – which, when completed, had an average price tag of £120,000.

Mrs Breen, meanwhile, was `decanted' into Edmund Street, across Langworthy Road, as part of Salford Council's Homeswap scheme. This "pioneering", "exciting", "award winning regeneration project" saw over 130 former residents swap their old homes in the Chimney Pot Park streets for abandoned houses nearby that had been completely renovated by Council appointed builders.

The Homeswap houses got new kitchens and bathrooms, central heating, alarms, double glazing, paint jobs, rewiring, new doors, and "structural repairs". In all, around £25,000 was spent doing the houses up. But after only four months of living in her Homeswap, the problems started mounting for Mrs Breen.

It began with a leak in the bathroom, and then spread to damp in the kitchen and the lounge and the bedroom…

"I've been here eight years now and they've been back every year since I moved in to repair my kitchen" says Mrs Breen "I'm onto my third kitchen unit, they've all rotted because of the damp..."

She takes out a whole pile of photos taken over the years showing black mould forming on the ceilings, bits of plaster falling away and the kitchen in an absolute mess. Today, in the living room and bedroom there's damp patches showing through in her immaculately kept home.

And Mrs Breen, a pensioner who just wanted to live a quiet life, has had to become something of an expert on rendering and brickwork and roof repairs – because Salford Council, while admitting liability for the kitchen and bathroom, are saying that the damp problems in the lounge and bedroom are down to `wear and tear'.

"They were supposed to have spent £25,000 on this house and yet other houses in this street that haven't had anything spent on them for years don't have these problems" she says "They're expecting me to put it right but it's all down to them. I'm only on a pension and I can't afford it.

"With all the damp, my gas and electric bills have gone up because I've had blowers trying to take the water out and blow it dry" she adds "And for eight years I've had all this inconvenience. They've never even said `sorry'."

It seems pretty obvious to anyone - but Salford Council and its arms length housing management company, Salix - that the damp problems in the kitchen, bathroom, lounge and bedroom are linked by a dodgy roof, or guttering or rendering or whatever. But now Mrs Breen in her "pioneering", "exciting", "award winning" Homeswap house, is being forced to pay for what seems like shocking renovation work on her regenerated house.

"When I moved in they told me it was all going to be absolutely gutted and a lot better than the one I was in" she says "But I can honestly say that my old house was in a lot better condition than this one."

While the new Urban Splash residents in Fir Street enjoy Mrs Breen's old house, this pensioner's life has been turned upside down. Homeswap? "It's been eight years of hell" she says.


* We asked Salford Council for a comment and Councillor Peter Connor, lead member for housing said: "At the time Mrs Breen moved into the property some eight years ago she had the house privately surveyed and was happy with the refurbishments carried out.
 
"Dampness in the kitchen occurred around two years later which we worked with Mrs Breen to resolve and fund the repair works. Now, there is some plaster work in the kitchen that Mrs Breen would like us to do and we will be setting a date with her and the surveyor to do this.
 
"Separately, we're aware of damp elsewhere in the property. As this has been identified eight years after the original Homeswap scheme, further repair work is not covered under the agreement but we will help Mrs Breen, as a private homeowner, where we can."

See Urban Splash's Tom Bloxham partying in his Bubble House in the South of France here…

 

Shaun wrote
at 07:48:07 on 22 October 2010
Could the residents take legal action? Surely (I forget the wording)these houses are not fit for the purpose for which they were sold? Maybe get trading standards involved?
 
Dawn Moriarty wrote
at 12:26:35 on 21 October 2010
Come on Salford Council, 3 kitchen units in 6 years! Its an absoulute joke, pull your finger out and help this pensioner have a dry warm winter.
 
Bev wrote
at 12:26:31 on 21 October 2010
I have known carol for twenty years she has always been a strong person who never really let things bother her I see carol on a daily basis and have seen gradually over the last eight years she is not the confident laid back person she was. I remember carol pointing these brown patches out to me in her bedroom not long after she moved in but has tried to rectify them herself by having work done and paying for this herself Over the years carol has been dipping into her savings an like many other people is finding hard ship now she is a pensioner i have seen carols kitchen units and appliances taken out three times we were hoping that the last time would be the last but it was not to be because five months later damp started penetrating the wall again i feel carol is being let down badly someone is to blame for this shoddy workmanship and while one pushes the blame onto the other carol is getting more and more depressed worring when this nightmare is ever going to end
 
A resident wrote
at 22:01:01 on 20 October 2010
All the houses have major damp problems, luckily i only rent and will be escaping in the near future. Look at the air bricks on the front of the houses, they all show signs of severe moisture release... I would say something major is wrong to cause such moisture levels. Maybe cracked water mains/ cracked sewerage ducts or even underground streams!!! The only solution is to knock the whole block down and start again as all the houses have the exact same issue. The house i am in is showing moisture levels of +70 percent at most times even with windows constantly open. Costing me a fortune in heating bills especially now the weather is getting cold. These moisture levels will be causing severe health issues to all the residents. It would be interesting if someone would look into doctors/hospital treatment for chest infections to people in that area...... I should know I had 1 myself after never being ill in my life, funny my alergies have played up since living there. Nothing to do with excessive dampness is it!!! I feel sorry for the people who have to live like that, shame on the council.
 
michelle breen wrote
at 22:00:01 on 20 October 2010
I'm Carols Daughter and I have seen over the past 8 years what kind of living conditions she has had to put up with. When my mum first moved into this house in a matter of 4 months the roof was leaking which caused damage. dampness in the kitchen occurred about 6 months after she moved in not two years as stated by Mr Connor. She has just been left to pay for it herself or if they did help got cowboy builders in to try and rectify it. Also damp patch occurred on the bedroom wall over 6 years and she has had someone in herself to do work on the house and now all these problems have just got worse which tells me the house needed alot of work done to it before she even moved into the property.
 
Reg Howard wrote
at 22:36:38 on 19 October 2010
There are Lies, Damn Lies, and Council Truths,
 
Shaun wrote
at 16:47:30 on 19 October 2010
The decent thing to do would be to offer Mrs Breen her old house back as a straight swap. It looks like the council were less than honest with this scheme from the start. As I understand it, people had to pay to move into houses that were not as good as the ones they had moved out of. If this was not the case, then why were they not allowed to stay in their original homes and let the council and Bloxham turn these (presumably vacant) houses into the "upside down" ones?
 
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