Fury over repair bills for Norwich’s Earlham House

PUBLISHED: 15:18 10 July 2012 | UPDATED: 15:56 10 July 2012

Earlham House, Earlham Road, where residents and business have been sent demands for essential repairs. Owner of Rice and Spice Iftekhar Alam.Photo: Steve Adams

Earlham House, Earlham Road, where residents and business have been sent demands for essential repairs. Owner of Rice and Spice Iftekhar Alam.Photo: Steve Adams

Shop owners have told of their dismay after being given bills amounting to more than £10,000 for repairs at Earlham House.

The budgets

People who either lease the flats or shops have been given a list of the budgets for 2012.Iftekhar Alam, of Rice and Spice, received his invoice and list on June 22, which stated the bill period was for December 31, 2011, to December 31, 2012.

Works listed include: £200,000 for replacing original window doors and screens; £23,760 to demolish a walkway, £158,400 to replace a covered walkway; £54,848 to repair a leaking roof access; £7,673 to repair pot holes in the car park and £39,600 to resurface the car parks.

Other service charges include £1,500 to “control litter throughout 2012” and £2,000 to “exterminate pigeon infestation”.

Residential leaseholders have been issued with section 20 notices, a legally-required document, asking them to nominate their preferred contractor to carry out the major works. Commercial leaseholders have also been invited to do the same.

Earlham House Management Limited is to receive £63,425.40p for a site management role, plus £12,685.08p for 20pc VAT on the management charge.

David Heath, of Bellgold Properties, said: “Earlham House Management Limited will be paid a 10pc management fee to administer and manage the major works and regular maintenance, which is in line with the market norm. The leaseholder payments will be held in the company’s client account pending payment for the major works and regular maintenance.”

And traders insist it is business as usual, after expressing concerns customer numbers have dropped since building work began to repair flats at the Earlham Road complex in Norwich.

Bellgold Properties, which owns the freehold to the site, has sent letters to leaseholders telling them how much they owe for external repairs and a 12-month service charge.

The documents, obtained by the Evening News, show the budget is £710,364.48 for 2012.

This cost has been split with businesses, known as commercial leaseholders, contributing around 32pc and residential leaseholders the remaining 68pc.

Bellgold says it will pay around 50pc of the 2012 costs, as it owns 60 of the 84 flats, and is talking to leaseholders about the 2012 major works.

But Iftekhar Alam, owner of Rice and Spice, said he was left “totally shocked” by his bill.

He said no deadline had been set apart from asking him for “a prompt settlement”.

Mr Alam added he was seeking legal advice to see what could be done to help him, alongside the support offered by city councillors.

He said: “We are going through a difficult time, a recession, all of us are struggling and all of a sudden a big bill like this. I don’t really mind paying a little but not that amount of money.”

Another shop boss, who did not wish to be named, said it had been a difficult period and with more than one shop unit, their bill was higher.

David Heath, of Bellgold Properties, said: “The terms of the lease govern when payment is due and I cannot comment on any individual circumstances. Any leaseholders who we have not been able to speak to as yet should get in touch as soon as possible.”

Construction work is under way at Earlham House, with Bellgold appointing Hackwood Homes Limited to refurbish its 60 flats.

Mr Alam said the site was set up without warning and had made it difficult for customers to see his takeaway, with trade decreasing.

He said: “I’ve had quite a lot of phone calls already asking if we are still open. I say yes. One of the customers said ‘I went past and I couldn’t see your sign’. I had to explain everything is blocked by the construction site.”

Yuan Zhang, of the Royal Plaza Chinese Takeaway, said they were considering whether to continue living at the site once work had been completed but business had been affected.

She said: “The people don’t know where we are – trade is down a little bit. If the price is okay we will want to move back in.

“When we open the builders have totally stopped but for the accommodation area there’s quite a lot of noise.”

Talks have been ongoing to mitigate the impact on businesses.

Comments have been disabled on this article.

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