Hayes Country Park: Information for residents
The Housing Standards Team would like to thank you for your help, when we were carrying out the site inspection of Hayes Country Park between September and October 2023. We were able to complete the inspection on time and had the opportunity to speak to some of you in the process.
As you may already know, the inspection identified several contraventions under the current site licence conditions. We will be writing to the site owner and every resident to outline our findings.
We will also be hosting a residents’ meeting at the Civic Centre to go through the issues.
This meeting will be on Wednesday 28 February 2024, from 6pm to 8pm in the Council Chamber at the Civic Centre. It is exclusively for residents of the site.
If you would like to attend, you can reserve a place now.
Ahead of the meeting, you can submit a question. We will do our best to answer them at the meeting.
We are aware that many of residents wish to dispute the findings of the inspection and have been in contact with the site manager, Michelle Rider. We encourage you to contact us so that we can collect this information and return to the site to check these findings.
We have also put together some answers to questions that you may already have:
The separation distances are needed to limit the spread of fire and provide privacy to homes owners.
We will be writing to the site owner with the outcome of the inspection and inviting them to propose a solution that will bring the site into compliance. We are not expecting this to be a quick fix.
We will also be liaising with the fire authority to establish what the risks are in different locations, establish if there are any mitigating measures that could be implemented in the shorter term, and to prioritise the action required.
We can serve an enforcement notice on the licence holder, requiring a condition to be complied with. However, this is not the first course of action. We will try to establish solutions informally with the site owner.
Before we serve a formal notice, we have to take into account the impact of that notice on the site owner and the home owners.
Verandas need to be built from non-combustible materials and be no less than 4.5m away from any other neighbouring home. This is to reduce the risk of a fire spreading from home to home.
It appears from the detailed site inspection that some verandas are not made from non-combustible materials and/or are within the 4.5m separation distance of neighbouring homes. This places each of the homes at significantly greater risk of fire spread.
The site owner is also the site licence holder and is responsible for complying with the licence conditions. This includes fixing any contraventions we have identified.
The site owner may consider moving homes once they become vacated or buying them from the occupiers so that they can be moved. A home can also be moved with the home owner’s permission.
The Housing Standards Team shall not tell the site owner which homes need to be relocated or removed from the site. The site owner is expected to tell the council and the occupiers of the site how they intend to comply.
Each relocated home must be positioned on a suitable hardstanding. We could serve a compliance notice and take legal action against the site owner if they fail to comply on an informal basis.
We cannot compensate individuals for the loss of their home
The site owner is responsible for complying with the conditions. They would need to make a civil arrangement with the occupiers whose properties are in contravention.
This includes verandas which need to be removed or replaced, either because they are made from combustible materials or are within the 4.5m separation distance from neighbouring homes.
The duty is on the site owner to provide confirmation to the council that these structures comply. We cannot compensate individuals for the loss of their veranda or pay for its replacement.
All ramps need to be non-combustible and be located at least 4.5m away from any neighbouring home.
If your ramp already satisfies these requirements it can stay. If your ramp does not comply, then you may have to consider alternatives.
If this situation arises, we will ask the advice of our Occupational Health colleagues to help find a solution.
Your home should contain a metal manufacturer’s tag, normally located on the outside. This contains a serial number.
If you contact the manufacturer with these details, they should be able to tell you if your home has a class 1 surface finish. Homes with class 1 surface finishes can be located 5.25m away from neighbouring homes. You may be able to upgrade your home to a class 1 finish retrospectively.
If your home is within 6 metres of another home, both homes need to have the appropriate fire resistance. The site owner is responsible for complying with the site licence conditions.
The site owner must decide how they wish to comply with the site licence conditions.
The Housing Standards Team shall not tell the site owner which homes they need to remove or relocate. If the site owner does not act informally, we can serve a compliance notice on them and impose a fine, if they fail to comply.
Not necessarily. If works can be carried out to achieve compliance, homes can remain.
This may include relocating the home or moving neighbouring homes to achieve the 6m separation distance. It may also include upgrading the outside with a class 1 surface finish if this is not already present. Homes with class 1 surface finishes can be located 5.25m away from neighbouring homes.
You can consider moving your home to another relevant protected site that holds a site licence. You can confirm that the site holds a site licence by contacting the relevant local authority. You must ensure that the site has planning permission for year-round use.
If the site owner fails to comply on an informal basis, we will serve a compliance notice. We can prosecute the site owner if they fail to comply with the notice.
The Housing Standards Team would like the site owner to come up with a timescale for complying with the site licence conditions.
The site licence conditions protect the safety of all occupants of the site. They are based on Model conditions, which have been drafted and published by central government along with guidance documents.
The legislation allows the local authority to grant a licence with these conditions. The local authority is expected to be the regulator and enforcer of these conditions. There is always the right of appeal to formal notices served by a local authority and the case can then be decided by a Tribunal.
It is the site licence holder’s responsibility to place homes in compliance with the site licence conditions.
There is an assumption that a site owner will comply with their site’s conditions, and contraventions may not be identified until a site inspection takes place, by which time homes are sold and occupied.
The current site licence conditions, issued in December 2022, attempt to address this in future by requiring the licence holder to notify the council in advance of any new home that is being introduced to the site and if any current home is being moved within the site.
Essex County Fire and Rescue is jointly responsible with the council for enforcing fire safety regulations on the site. We have consulted with them on the contraventions we have found, and they will give their advice on the remedial action required.
We will consult the site owner about the contraventions. We will ask them to produce a timescale for achieving compliance on an informal basis.
If we do not receive these proposals, or they don't make adequate progress, we will serve a compliance notice.
The process may take longer than anticipated, if the site owner submits an appeal to the First Tier (Property Chamber) Tribunal.