Notorious high-rise Kettering flats to be razed to the ground after ‘baffled’ judge says they have 'very serious defects'
Kettering’s most infamous block of flats has been ordered to be totally demolished following a ruling at the Technology & Construction Court in Birmingham this lunchtime.
Her Honour Judge Sarah Watson granted the injunction sought by planning authority North Northants Council (NNC) for the total demolition of the six-storey flats in Job’s Yard, saying the building posed a ‘serious risk’.
The apartment block, a project by Michigan Construction Ltd under the sole directorship and chief builder, Marcus Fielding, will be razed to the ground due to serious safety concerns.
Instead of demolishing the top two storeys as ordered by the court to comply with his planning application, the court heard Mr Fielding continued to work on the fifth and six storey roof.
Judge Watson said: “Reducing the risk from this building is urgent. The problems (with the construction) are numerous and interrelated.”
Summing up the history of the building from when its foundations were first started in 2018, the court heard how Mr Fielding had failed to comply with building regulations and planning permission requirements.
Expert witnesses brought in by North Northants Council told the court the building was in danger of collapse putting those inside, and anywhere near the building, at severe risk.
The ruling follows a three-day court process with Mr Fielding failing to appear before the court to give evidence in person, instead relying on written statements.
On day two of the hearing, when he did attend, in response to a ‘baffled’ Judge Watson, Mr Fielding said he had carried on adding the fifth and sixth storey – contrary to a court order for it to be removed – because he was living in the flats and needed a roof. He said he’d added the windows bought for £70,000 to the building because he’d bought them before the court’s ruling.
During Judge Watson’s summing up, where she catalogued ‘poor building practice’ and ‘numerous and significant problems’ Mr Fielding was heard to call out as Judge Watson concluded the Job’s Yard building had ‘very serious defects’ including no masonry ties.
Mr Fielding interrupted saying ‘there were’ but Judge Watson said: “Mr Fielding you had your opportunity to speak.”
Building on the site had been halted after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had placed an enforcement order against any further work taking place. But work resumed after the order was lifted to allow the demolition of the two storeys – but this also allowed Mr Fielding to carry on building.
Further evidence found by expert witness structural engineer David Smith of David Associates revealed that the foundations were not dug as deeply as they should have been. The weight of an extra three storeys being added over a four-year period added to the danger of collapse.
A cordon has been in place around the site since June 2022.
Mr Fielding’s financial provider, M.A.X. Funding Limited, had opposed the building’s complete removal arguing to keep the ground and first floor of the apartments. Mr Neil Mendoza KC representing M.A.X. Funding Limited said his client stood to lose ‘a quarter of a million pounds’ if the building was demolished completely.
Judge Watson said: “It is hard to imagine a clearer case that unless restrained he will continue.
“He is unwilling to comply with requirements and provide the council with the information it needed
“Serious risks are posed by this building.”