19 Oct Hundreds of University of West London students to urgently leave Brentford flats over fire safety fears | UK News
Hundreds of students are among those being urgently moved out of west London flats over fire safety fears.
Almost 700 University of West London students have been told they are being moved from the Paragon site in Brentford, while operators Notting Hill Genesis (NHG) carry out a “comprehensive safety review”.
Residents of the six-block estate were informed on Monday morning that they would be moved in a “Covid-secure” way during the week.
NHG said the “construction of the buildings may be putting residents at risk”, adding: “Further investigations will establish the full extent of the structural and fire safety issues that have been uncovered at the development and identify next steps.”
It said “building performance issues” and cladding issues highlighted in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy had prompted recent safety checks – which have now “revealed further problems”.
Non-student residents in the estate’s 105 shared-ownership leasehold units and 65 intermediate rent homes will be moved to nearby hotels.
NHG will pay for the costs of the moves and the new accommodation, as well as offering dedicated caseworkers for residents.
Students affected will also get help moving, a reduction on rent, £50 for food, a campus shuttle bus and a month’s worth of travel on Oyster cards.
Business student Laura Howes, 19, said: “We’ve been told that we just need to leave as soon as possible pretty much, in that there’s been a serious investigation into the safety of the building.”
“Now we’re being moved to Wembley which is an hour-and-a-half away, which is just catastrophic for our courses.”
Large parts of the University of West London are spread across Brentford and neighbouring Ealing.
Ms Howes, who was self-isolating until two days ago, said it was “very last minute” and that it was going “to have a massive toll on our education”.
Kate Davies, group chief executive of NHG, apologised to residents for having to “disrupt their lives” but said the company was working “to provide safe, affordable housing”.
“We always ensure the wellbeing of our residents, so while we are incredibly disappointed to have to make this decision, we believe that we have no choice but to ask people to leave their homes on the Paragon estate,” she said.
“I understand that Paragon residents may feel angry or alarmed by this news, as they have every right to be.
“This is a very distressing time and we are genuinely sorry for the huge amount of disruption and uncertainty that this situation will cause.
“This is a complex situation and we don’t yet have all the answers.
“We are working to uncover the full extent of the issues at Paragon so that we can provide residents with clarity about timescales, next steps and options as quickly as possible.”
In a statement, the University of West London said it was focused on helping students get alternative accommodation and putting in place a “comprehensive” package of support to minimise disruption.
“All residents affected were communicated with directly at 11am today. Alternative accommodation has been secured for all those affected,” the university said.