Mass evacuation of students from troubled west London estate

Hundreds of students living on a west London housing estate owned by Notting Hill Genesis, were evacuated at short notice and rehoused after a series of building safety problems emerged.

The building safety issues are understood to include problems with fire breaks in the cladding, but extends to other health and safety matters. NHG has commissioned specialist consultants to examine the buildings and identify the full extent of the problems.

Students living on the 1,059-home Paragon Estate in Brentford said they were completely unaware of any safety issues with their blocks.

They attend the University of West London and had only moved into their accommodation as recently as September.

NHG are one of the biggest social landlords in the capital. The 66,000-home housing association said that recent inspections had uncovered issues so serious that resident safety at the blocks, which also houses 170 leaseholders and tenants, could no longer be guaranteed. This resulted in the almost immediate evacuation and rehousing of all 858 residents.

The blocks were built by the private house builder Berkeley Group before being sold to Presentation Housing Association in 2006 and then transferred to NHG. The six blocks contain a total of 1,059 homes.

Kate Davies, chief executive of NHG, said:

“We are extremely sorry that we had to ask our student residents to leave the Paragon Estate, which we understand is causing disruption and worry to them at what is already a challenging time. We understand this is a distressing time and are offering free well-being advice and face-to-face counselling sessions to all student residents for the next 12 months.

“All Paragon students have been found alternative accommodation in other purpose-built student housing. We are supporting them as they move to their new homes and providing travel expenses and removal costs, including a packing service. There is no suggestion that any other buildings in the Notting Hill Genesis portfolio will require a similar approach to the one being taken at Paragon.”

By Patrick Mooney, Editor