It's another kick in the teeth for Green Quarter residents as Australian property giant wins big money bid
Manchester City Council has awarded a contract thought to be worth £160m to an Australian construction giant, despite an ongoing row over dangerous cladding in the city's Green Quarter neighbourhood.
Lendlease has been chosen by the council, over rival Laing O’Rourke, to deliver the huge £330m Manchester Town Hall refurbishment project over the next six years. In a statement, the City Council's deputy leader, councillor Nigel Murphy, said Lendlease "offered the best overall value".
The council say the ongoing cladding row was not even taken into consideration
The decision is another kick in the teeth for residents of two residential blocks in the Green Quarter, caught up in a bitter legal wrangle with the developer.
In June 2018, Confidential reported that residents of Vallea Court and Cypress Place, constructed by Lendlease in 2013, were being forced to pay for replacement cladding following post-Grenfell Tower safety checks.
The two blocks, housing 345 apartments, were identified as containing the lethal aluminium composite material (ACM) - thought to have been a major contributor in the deaths of 72 people when fire swept through the North Kensington high rise in June 2017.
In July 2018, a tribunal ruled that the residents would have to pay the estimated £3m bill - roughly £10,000 per resident. Speaking to Confidential following the decision, Green Quarter residents’ spokeswoman Katie Kelly said: “It’s making peoples’ lives hell. It’s a living nightmare living there now.”
Lendlease has argued that as the blocks were designed and built by Shepherd's Construction and bought by the Pemberstone group in 2015, it is not liable to pay for the costs. This despite a letter to residents from the developer years earlier which read: 'Lendlease will undertake, at our expense, to complete any accepted defect that has arisen as a result of either faulty materials or defective workmanship.'
When asked by Confidential whether the on-going cladding row had been taken into consideration when awarding the contract to Lendlease, the City Council said that it had not been taken into consideration 'as required by procurement law... only which bid best delivered against the stated criteria'.
Councillor Murphy added: "We would stress that under procurement law we had to take this decision based on the bidder which best delivered on the stated criteria for jobs, quality and opportunities for local people rather than external factors and that's what we did."
Manchester's Lib Dem leader John Leech, who opposed Lendlease's bid at a council meeting in October, said the council's decision showed "what little regard this council has for local people". He added that the council must force Lendlease to pay the £3m bill and "end this disgraceful saga once and for all."
A twitter account (GQR_MCR_Cladding) set up to support the residents said the council's decision was 'beyond disappointing'.
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