Post written by Thomas Bannan - Owner and Resident at Greenquarter, Manchester

It has now been almost 18 months since the horrifying Grenfell tragedy, and hundreds of unsafe buildings have yet to have the essential action taken to make them safe for inhabitation.

The post I am writing here should be a very short one. I brought my flat in 2012 and on purchasing the flat I was greeted by a new home welcome pack from Lendlease, the developers. On the very first page welcoming me to my new home was the following:

“We can confirm that Lendlease will undertake, at our expense, to complete any accepted defect that has arisen as a result of faulty materials or defective workmanship.”

Fast forward to today and I am one of hundreds of leaseholders in Cypress Place and Vallea Court in the Green Quarter of Manchester city centre facing the very real prospect of fundamentally living in an unsafe home wrapped in highly flammable cladding, whilst also facing the prospect of having to write a blank cheque in order to complete the work required to make it safe. All as a result of Lendlease using faulty materials – cladding that is “more flammable than petrol”. We are now being made to pay for it too.

Rights for use given to blog author

Had it not been for the media attention around this case and others like it around the country, I would be completely in the dark as to where I stand with my current living situation. I am no expert in this, and this may show, but we as leaseholders are fighting the well-financed experts in a highly complex and frustrating situation. Take, for example, the “fair and independent” Tribunal that Pemberstone, the now building owners, threw at us. This Tribunal had to decide who should legally pay for the removal of the external cladding, likely to cost in excess of £3 million. We could not afford legal representation despite independently raising over £10,000 through a crowdfunding scheme and were left with some highly capable but not legally trained residents to fight our cause. The First Tier Tribunal ruled that we must pay for the replacement of the dangerous cladding, the costs for a waking watch which will be in place until the work is completed, the cost of the Tribunal itself, and the legal representation used against us by Pemberstone. Looks like we can afford legal representation after all (but to represent the building owners, not us) – my mistake.

The sum of money it looks as though we will have to pay is likely to be significantly life changing for those living in these blocks close to Manchester City centre. For many of us, this could mean bankruptcy and financial ruin. We may lose jobs, go into negative equity, and be unable to purchase property again. Lendlease have not lived up to their promise to myself and others upon purchasing the flat, but also are seemingly going against the very basic operating principles that I, and the Government, feel such companies should be working to.

This is not the first time Lendlease have been involved in such a situation. A fire, unrelated to Lendlease, occurred at the Lacrosse building in Melbourne’s Docklands in 2014, with distinct similarities in nature to London’s Grenfell Tower. Subsequent reports show unmistakeably that Lendlease used flammable cladding material on Melbourne's Royal Women's Hospital in Australia and have since been ordered to remove and replace the cladding. This was in 2014, and I can’t help but ask why other such potentially unsafe buildings that Lendlease have developed were not identified and proactivity made safe. Lendlease sold our freehold to Pemberstone in 2015. I probably can’t write what I want to here.

Despite this, at this point it is probably a good time to congratulate Lendlease on the very public announcement of their profit this year. Steve McCann announced their FY18 results on Twitter, boasting an Australian dollar 792.8 million profit, reminding them of the path their employees set for his company and generally how “wonderful” this year has been for them. 

The bill we are facing is very potentially a full year’s take home wages for some residents. Puts things in a very real context doesn’t it?

LendLease, actively promotes its company vision that, 

“Companies must start justifying their worth to society, with greater emphasis placed on environmental and social impact rather than straight economics." 

This statement makes a mockery of the residents of Vallea Court and Cypress Place by ignoring the economic and social strain placed upon them. It also makes a mockery of Lendlease as they are clearly unable to live up to their own standards.

The added insult to injury is that Lendlease are currently shortlisted for projects such as the £330m restoration of Manchester Town Hall. 

To top this off, communication between the Management Company, Living City, the owners, Pemberstone, and us has been extremely poor/non-existent, at a time when communication is essential. Residents have had the sale of their flats fall through, unable to move jobs, cancelling holidays, cancelling weddings - all because of this highly uncertain position we are in. More clarity was essential from all parties involved. I read in an article back in March that Living City were holding regular residents’ meetings, had an online forum, and were in regular contact with the residents. The regular residents’ meetings was a flat out lie, as all residents' meetings had been cancelled and postponed at that time. There was an online forum, but the speed and quality of the answers they provided were certainly not to the level they were portraying to the media. All in all, this left me extremely worried and confused about the situation, through no fault of my own, that I and the other residents were in. The residents need more clarity from all parties involved, including the insurers of our building.

Andy Burnham giving his final Shadow Home Secretary speech at the 2016 Labour Party Conference in Liverpool. Burnham had already announced he would be standing in the Mayor of Greater Manchester election in 2017.

By Rwendland [CC BY-SA 4.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

However, Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, has seemingly been our bright light in this highly stressful situation. He has met with Green Quarter residents and has committed to helping persuade Lendlease to do the right thing, hoping to use the situation as a case study for other residents in similar situations around the UK. Let’s hope his pressure can force Lendlease into doing the morally correct thing. Thank you, Andy.

From a personal standpoint, I feel let down at almost every point from buying the property I live in to the point we are at today. There is, however, still time for Lendlease and other companies in a similar situation to do the right thing and put this unbelievably stressful situation behind us. Here’s hoping.

Twitter Account: @GqrMcr

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How to cite this blog post (Harvard Style)

Bannan, T. (2018). The Reality of Owning a Leasehold Flat Built by Lendlease and Managed by Living City Post-Grenfell, Poor Choice. Available at: (Accessed [date]).