WALTHAMSTOW: New disabled-friendly flat 'uninhabitable'

First published in News East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

A HOUSING association's brand-new specially adapted flat for a disabled man was virtually uninhabitable when he moved in because it was badly designed and riddled with faults, he has claimed.


Work building the “flagship” block, in Evelyn Road, Walthamstow, was completed this summer on behalf of council housing body Ascham Homes.


But 52-year-old Laurence Foenander, a former builder who is in a wheelchair after he broke his back in an accident last year, had to leave just a day after moving in when the flat flooded when he tried to use its shower.


He has accused accused Ascham Homes of wasting “thousands of pounds” of taxpayers money on repairs and alternative accommodation when the flat should have been fault-free in the first place.


“It's farcical. You would think Ascham Homes would consult with a disabled person before they get someone to design and build a flat for wheelchair users. I hope it’s something they will consider in future”, he said.


“Not only is it a massive inconvenience but it's completely put a spanner in my rehabilitation and been a real strain.


“It's a complete waste of money and the flat should have been ready when I moved in.”


Mr Foenander says the flood happened because the floor of the wetroom in the bathroom had been wrongly laid so that water flowed into the hallway – and not the drain as it should have done.


He also says much of the flat was also poorly designed for a disabled person. A hand rail which is supposed to help disabled people in the bathroom was installed in a narrow gap between the toilet and a wall, making it virtually unusable.

In addition, he claims many of the windows are too high up for someone in a wheelchair to reach and the front door was too bulky and heavy.


Mr Foenander, who is originally from Waltham Forest, spent several months living in a specialist rehabilitation centre in Southend, Essex, following his accident while he waited for Ascham Homes.


He has had to return living there, at the housing association's expense.


Repairs on the flat have now been completed but Mr Foenander says the flat is dirty from the works and wants Ascham Homes to clean the flat before he moves back in.

A  spokeswoman for Ascham Homes said: "We apologise to Mr Foenander for any inconvenience that has been caused...

"Unfortunately, sometimes with new build developments occasional defects do occur and once reported to us are rectified by the contractors.

"The wet room flooring was repaired by the contractor as quickly as possible and the property was fit to move back into from early September.

"Additionally, Ascham Homes provided laminate flooring throughout the property to compensate Mr Foenander for the inconvenience caused.

"The wheelchair units have been built in accordance with the high standards set out within the Waltham Forest Inclusive Housing Design Guide Supplementary Planning Document, which are generally higher than those usually followed by other social landlords.

"These generally meet most peoples' needs, however sometimes people will need minor adjustments on moving in and they would usually then contact an Occupational Therapist (OT) in Social Care to assess their needs.

"Until someone signs a tenancy, wheelchair units are not generally built to a 'bespoke' requirement."

She added: "Window winders were provided for the window in the bedroom in order to assist Mr Foenander as the window was too high for him to reach, however the window in the kitchen was not fitted with a window winder as there is alternative means of ventilation through the patio door.

"However it was agreed that his OT would arrange a winder for this window if it was required."

Comments (1)

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11:02am Mon 8 Oct 12

Walthamster says...

Surely disability specialists have to be consulted when flats for disabled people are designed? What organisation did Ascham Homes consult?
Surely disability specialists have to be consulted when flats for disabled people are designed? What organisation did Ascham Homes consult? Walthamster
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