'Extremely disappointing' - Westlegate Tower works extended AGAIN
- Credit: Sarah Burgess
Westlegate Tower works are set to stretch on for yet another five weeks in a development businesses have called "disappointing".
The scaffolding blighting the Norwich high rise was installed in 2019 after 60mph gusts ripped down a section of cladding.
Watsons Property, which manages the tower, said shortages in the UK cladding market were to blame for why repairs didn't actually start until August of this year.
But now, the initial completion date of mid-October has been pushed back AGAIN to December 3.
Explaining further setbacks, Watsons, speaking on behalf of the building's owner, said: "Repair works have commenced but there have been some unforeseen delays due to negotiations with contractors.
"Scaffolding, including a construction lift for ease of access of materials, has also been erected to enable this work to take place. No additional costs, including those associated with the scaffolding, are being borne by leaseholders."
The chairman of the Westlegate Tower Residents Association, who did not want to be named, said: "It's absolutely ridiculous that it's taken them nearly three years to sort this, but what's another couple of months for tenants to wait when we've already waited this long?
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"We're just hoping for a scaffold-free Christmas."
The chairman said for a six-month period leaseholders had been footing a scaffolding bill of several thousand pounds a month, but the responsibility for that had been taken over by the construction company — to tenants' "immense relief".
Rachel Warings, who owns Warings Lifestore directly beneath Westlegate, said she was "extremely disappointed" with the delay.
She said: "As part of the works they've blocked off Lion & Castle Yard, and the back entrance to our interiors store. It's massively affected trade.
"It's worrying because it's apparently too unsafe for us to walk through or have seating there, but there's homeless people in tents sleeping there every night.
"Does nobody care about their safety?"
Duty manager at Two Magpies Bakery, Enrique Riverola, said his customers weren't happy that the walkway from Timber Hill to Westlegate was blocked off either.
"It's a big annoyance for people", he explained.
Westlegate Tower saga
It was March 2019 when stormy weather first brought down the cladding.
The incident saw the pedestrianised Westlegate closed for seven days while the temporary scaffolding was put up to secure the building.
The closure saw safety barriers put up around the tower block, preventing people from walking between Westlegate and All Saints Green.
It forced Warings Lifestore, Paula Gundry and Evans Cycles to close their doors, while other businesses on the street reported a 50pc drop in footfall. Dessert shop Mindoro ceased trading entirely, blaming “adverse trading conditions”.
In January last year, Norwich South MP Clive Lewis urged managers of the high rise to "pull their fingers out", fix the building and remove the scaffolding - which he labelled "an eyesore".
But it wasn’t until August this year that work began to repair the cladding hole - 28 months after it appeared.