Last fall, the tenants of The Decks in Runcorn were told that the cladding in their homes was highly flammable and that they were forbidden to park under the blocks if a vehicle fire spread to the buildings.
A year after they were told that their homes were at risk of fire, the residents of six apartment blocks on the banks of the Mersey River still live in fear.
It’s been a year since the decks at Runcorn were classified as fire hazards because of the dangerous cladding, and residents say they are still “not moving forward”.
“When will it be ready?”
One of the residents, 54-year-old Gail Jeys, told Echo: “It’s a nightmare. I just want to wake up from this nightmare.
Since then, new fire alarms have been installed and work has been done to solve fire safety problems in the building, which was very costly for the residents, but the dangerous cladding remains.
For Gail, last year was a year of constant stress. Rising insurance costs meant that the service charge doubled to £600 per quarter and she had to pay more than £1,000 for a new fire alarm.
She said: “It is a constant struggle, this constant fear of what will happen.
Meanwhile, she continues to live in an apartment that is still classified as a fire hazard and her young grandson was banned from visiting by his parents because of the risk.
“When my son heard about this, he said that I cannot leave the little one there. I was about to give up.”
But life on the decks takes its toll on the residents, but many are trapped there because the flammable paneling has rendered their homes worthless.
It was to become a luxury development, opened in 2006, with apartments sold for over £110,000 and plans to create a gated community with stores and restaurants next to the apartments.
The value of the apartments initially fell to around £75,000 and then literally went nowhere with the news of the disguise as mortgage lenders refused to lend to would-be owners to buy property on The Decks.
Plans for further development were never completed, the stores and restaurants and even two entire apartment blocks were never built on, leaving wasteland next to the completed apartments.
Another resident, 49-year-old Patrick Caffrey, moved from Oxfordshire to Runcorn with his wife in 2012, thinking they were going to buy an affordable but luxurious apartment, only to find that they can’t leave now.