The Mill development in Ipswich is facing structural and fire safety issues that may cost up to £30m to rectify. Residents face uncertainties as funds dwindle, raising fears of potential evacuations due to fire hazards.

05 March 2024

The administrators overseeing The Mill development in Ipswich have revealed staggering estimates indicating that the repair costs for addressing structural and fire safety concerns could soar as high as £30 million. Following the freeholder's administration back in 2010, the fate of the tower block has been hanging in the balance, with residents left in a state of uncertainty.

RSM UK, the appointed administrators, recently informed residents that the available funds are expected to be depleted by summer, unless a buyer is secured. Failure to secure a buyer could potentially plunge the development into liquidation, leaving residents burdened with ongoing operational costs. The urgency of the situation escalated when severe winds ripped cladding away, rendering the tower block unsafe.

Moreover, despite the critical safety lessons learnt from the Grenfell Tower tragedy, fire hazards identified in The Mill development remain unaddressed, affecting a staggering 249 flats. In a letter obtained by the BBC, RSM UK highlighted the absence of a precise figure for the total rectification expenses, but indicated a daunting estimate of around £30 million.

Originally projected to exhaust funds in the first part of the year, administrators now anticipate funds running out by the end of the second quarter of 2024. This financial strain extends to residents, who are faced with the daunting prospect of shouldering approximately £500,000 annually for fire safety measures. Should residents fail to meet these costs, there looms the possibility of evacuation by the fire service.

Amie Holdsworth, a resident who purchased her flat in 2018, expressed her dismay at the unforeseen challenges she encountered upon moving in. She expressed the lack of clarity regarding the severity of the building's condition, recounting her futile attempts to remortgage her flat in 2020, only to be informed of its diminished value.

The predicament has left residents like Holdsworth feeling trapped, with concerns over their safety in a building plagued by potential fire risks. In response, RSM UK affirmed its commitment to prioritising the safety of all residents and disclosed ongoing discussions with governmental bodies to secure additional funding and facilitate the sale of the development.

MP for Ipswich, Tom Hunt, has been actively engaging with concerned residents and reassured them of his efforts to seek a resolution. He expressed optimism regarding the prospect of selling the building to a developer, echoing sentiments of hope amidst the challenges faced.

Meanwhile, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities pledged its commitment to finding a long-term solution in collaboration with administrators, Ipswich Borough Council, and Homes England. Acknowledging the plight of affected residents, the department stressed the need for comprehensive resolutions addressing both cladding and structural deficiencies, albeit acknowledging the complexity and time-consuming nature of the process.

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