'Utterly shameful': MP's anger at treatment of flammable flats buyers

West Hampstead Square and Tulip Siddiq

In 2018, a fire at West Hampstead Square revealed its balconies were flammable. Now its insulation has been found unsafe too, Tulip Siddiq said it was 'shameful' to charge leaseholders. - Credit: Lucas Cumiskey / PA

An MP has criticised the “utterly shameful” treatment of young, first-time buyers in a Camden development, whose homes were found to be covered in flammable insulation.

Tulip Siddiq, Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, said it was "appalling" that leaseholders could face "exorbitant costs".

She said residents had been "put through hell" and "had their life plans torn up".

Developer Ballymore Ltd told buyers at West Hampstead Square, they were liable for the cost of remedial works.

Even those who bought 25 per cent shares in a shared-ownership scheme must foot 100pc of the remedial bill for their unit.

“Some residents have been in touch to tell me just how much of a toll this appalling experience has taken on their and their family’s mental health,” said Mrs Siddiq.

“This utterly shameful situation is pushing so many people into financial ruin and despair, from which there is no escape due to the fact that the homes are unsellable.”

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Buyer Will Collier, 29 condemned Ballymore for passing costs to struggling leaseholders when its parent company recently paid a £15million dividend to shareholders.

Mrs Siddiq said it “should be against the law” for large, successful companies to pass costs on to leaseholders.

“It is shocking,” she said. “The government should be doing much more to recoup costs from developers.”

Ballymore said it used materials which were compliant at the time and were signed off Camden Council.

A spokesperson said the firm was prepared to discuss issues with Mrs Siddiq.

The outside of West Hampstead Square

West Hampstead Square, a development of 198 flats across seven buildings, was finished and opened in 2017. - Credit: Siorna Ashby

Mr Collier said he had "some sympathy" for developers. He felt housing shortages had led successive governments to water down building regulations.

Asked whether she felt politicians were to blame, Mrs Siddiq said: “The fire at Grenfell Tower was one of the most harrowing and shameful moments in our recent history. It, and the wider cladding scandal, should never have been allowed to happen.

“There has been an attitude in recent years that building regulations should not be too stringent and enforcement around issues like fire safety not too well-funded. This was wrong and must never be allowed to happen again.”

For more, read:

First-time buyers fear ruin as 'dream' flats fail fire safety test

West Hampstead flat-owners face £100k bills for flammable cladding