Monday 27 March 2017

Priory Hall needs a major refit as more defects uncovered

Paul Melia, Louise Hogan and Aoife Finneran

A CONTROVERSIAL development evacuated due to fire safety concerns has a litany of major problems including faults in gas and electricity supplies, problems with its roof and pyrite in its walls.

Details outlined in an enforcement notice from Dublin City Council show that the Priory Hall apartment complex in Donaghmede is stricken with major safety concerns which could put residents' lives at risk if not fixed.

Some 240 residents were evacuated from the north Dublin complex in mid-October because of major fire safety concerns. They have been forced to secure other accommodation, with some renting other homes, living in hotels or NAMA-properties.

Graham Usher, an apartment owner and spokesman for Priory Hall residents, said: "It is no longer a retro-fit to deal with the fire safety issues; it is a rebuild.

"Our big fear is that, given the scale of the problems and no solution in place to solve them, that we will be left out in the cold, out of our homes with no plan to fix it."

The developer, Thomas McFeely, has been ordered off the site and is mounting a legal challenge against a three-month prison sentence and €1m fine for failing to carry out safety works.

But residents will not know until next week whether they will have to pay their own accommodation costs while work on their homes continues. The costs are currently being borne by Dublin City Council, which has spent €350,000 so far.

But the extent of the sub-standard works carried out by the developer is today revealed in an enforcement notice seen by the Irish Independent, dated November 17 last.

It shows:

• The lifts are defective and need urgent repair works.

• External wall panels must be removed and replaced.

• Walls and the roof in the basement car part are defective. Structurally unsound, they also contain pyrite.

• Steel supports for a staircase are rusted, and ventilation pipes need to be replaced.

• Large parts of the roof need to be replaced because they are "defective" and gutters must be installed.

• The buildings must be waterproofed.

The council has also confirmed that gas and electrical installations are "defective", and that residents cannot return to their homes until the repair works are completed.

"No part of the building shall be reoccupied unless and until the above specified works and all necessary provisions for the safety of persons in and about the building have been made," the enforcement notice says.

"All pumps, lifts, common area lighting, access controls, vents etc must be operational and be connected to an energy source which has been financially secured through pre-payment."

The council also wants to be paid almost €40,000 to cover the costs of the investigation which found the defects.

Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that the Supreme Court will decide whether the High Court was entitled to make orders under Section 23 of the Fire Safety Act requiring the council to pay the accommodation, storage and rent supplement differential costs incurred by evacuated residents.

Mr Usher said if the council is successful in their appeal, it would mean many owners would default on their mortgages as they would not be able to pay rent and furnish a mortgage.

He pointed out the problem related to inadequate legislation at government and local authority level which allowed fire safety certificates to be issued for people to buy the problem-plagued apartments.

Irish Independent

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