Unexplained and random incidents of balcony glass panels shattering at a block of flats in Erith are stirring safety concerns among residents after four incidents in just a few months.
One of the residents of Vanacker Court, who would like to remain anonymous, explained that the glass panels were suddenly exploding and leaving debris on the ground and balconies underneath them.
She said that this is posing a significant safety risk, particularly to young children in the building on Larner Road.
Whilst her own balcony has not yet had any issues, she explained that a WhatsApp group for the building had been keeping track of the incidents and discussing concerns about building owners Orbit Housing’s lack of action.
She told the News Shopper: “Lots of us tenants use the balcony regularly, including our children. It is very dangerous that these things keep happening.
“I live on the first floor and at any moment glass could shatter nothing is being done about it.
“After one of the incidents, one of our children looked at the shards of glass on the floor and went to pick it up. She told me she thought it was a gem.”
She claims that it does not seem that the balconies are breaking after extreme weather or other stress factors as it appears to be random, leaving her concerned about the quality and safety of the construction materials used.
The resident said that Orbit appears to be repairing the balconies with the same materials, leaving tenants anxious about potential future incidents.
She added: “It is not being investigated. They are not taking into account that there could be a correlation as to why they are breaking.
“I've what exactly the product is that they're using and if I could be provided with any more information on it and that it is fit for purpose, but they have not responded to that.
“In light of Grenfell they should really want to listen to the people that live there.
“It’s one question of whether things should have been built with these materials to begin with and unfortunately, it's too late to have that discussion but at least we can look into this now.”
Orbit told the News Shopper that the glass “meets the applicable building and design standards” and has recently “undertaken an additional structural survey which has not identified any underlying issues”.
Most tenants at Vanacker Court own their flats and also reportedly pay a sizable maintenance fee for the building, but Orbit is also asking the flat owners to foot the bill according to the tenant.
The resident said: “They are asking for £200 pounds to replace it even though when we have looked on our title deed it actually says that we don't own the balcony we just own the floor.”
Orbit did not provide any further comments relating to additional fees.
The instances of unanticipated glass shattering occurred on August 9, July 26, June 22 and May 6.
A spokesperson for Orbit Homes said: “The safety of our customers is our absolute priority and we have been informed by the original contractor who built Vanacker Court that the balcony installation meets the applicable building and design standards.
“We have investigated each individual incident and undertaken an additional structural survey which has not identified any underlying issues. We are also in ongoing discussion with the original builders.”