Politics column: Rainham MP Jon Cruddas discusses Orchard Village

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas. Picture: PA/Jane Mingay

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas. Picture: PA/Jane Mingay - Credit: PA WIRE

Housing associations have a proud history in delivering for their tenants and more generally are part of a rich tradition of mutualism and co-operation: of charitable and non-profit-making commitments to housing stretching back into the 19th century on behalf of working people.

In short, they have played a civilising role in our society for decades. I hope that will continue.

However, the experiences at the Orchard Village Estate – formerly the Mardyke – in south Hornchurch endanger this historic legacy.

This week I held a debate in Parliament to discuss the issue, and to find a route forward for the hundreds of residents – and we are literally talking about hundreds of residents – that have registered complaints about the poor standard of the new homes.

The main problems concern the failure to build homes to an adequate standard – leaving residents vulnerable to reported issues of damp, mould, noise pollution, fireproofing, and with an inadequate maintenance and repairs service. There have been serious concerns regarding insulation and heating costs.

On December 19, I was forced to contact Public Health England regarding concerns of methane exposure on the estate. In short, Circle Housing has failed the residents and it is completely unacceptable.

Due to the efforts of local residents, these issues are finally attracting the attention they deserve. The key question is what will happen to the estate in the future.

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The good news is since the recent merger, Clarion Housing Group – formerly Circle – has established a project team to begin resolving issues.

They are also independently reviewing building quality and heating systems and the main contractor has been pulled off the estate and compensation is now being discussed. The council is also investigating matters.

Councillors have been instrumental in raising awareness and I will continue to work with them and residents to keep an active watching brief as this situation progresses. Happy new year to all Recorder readers.