A retirement housing developer in Essex has promised to launch an urgent investigation after it emerged that a retirement housing block in Southend was recently opened before the company had installed any balconies on the outside. For unknown reasons, a number of new residents were allowed to move into the building, and a leaked email has suggested that the occupiers ‘wouldn’t notice’ the missing balconies as nobody would go outside until warmer weather in the summer – they hoped to have the balconies added on by May 2016.
84-year-old June Tombay moved into a top floor property at Autumn House on 10th March, and according to her daughter Sally she was settling in very well. She said: ‘Mum was really excited about her new place and it looked lovely and spacious inside. With the weather being so cold at the moment, nobody really gave the balcony a second thought, and nobody in the family noticed that it was missing. Unfortunately, just a few hours after getting everything unpacked, we could hear two dogs barking at each other outside and this is something that always upsets Mum. She stormed over to the balcony door, saying that she was going to give the owners a piece of her mind, and we were horrified to see her plunge downwards straight after going through the double doors – my instant thought was that we had lost her and I just went numb.’
Sally continued: ‘We ran downstairs immediately and feared the worst – after all her top floor flat must be around 50ft from the ground. Fortunately, she landed on top of the dog owners who were still arguing with each other, and I thank the Lord that she managed to escape with a few cuts and bruises. She has been suffering from fluid retention in her legs lately which probably helped her to avoid life-threatening injuries, and the two girls are doing well in hospital. Mum has a heart of gold and she has adopted the two dogs until the young girls are able to walk again, but I can’t help feeling that all of this could have been avoided if the builder had remembered to put balconies on the exterior wall.’
A spokesperson for developer Envoler Construction confirmed that balconies will be added to the building as a matter of urgency. They added: ‘ We would like to apologise to Mrs Tombay for any inconvenience that our error has caused, and we have sent her a bunch of flowers by way of an apology. As there are a number of other residents in the building who have pointed out this error, our site manager has visited all 1st, 2nd and 3rd floor properties and installed warning posters on the outside doors until the balconies have been installed.’
However, in a late development, Southend News Network can EXCLUSIVELY reveal that the balconies are yet to be installed because of an objection that has been raised by the management of neighbouring school Gorp Hill Primary. Their headteacher Dr Lewis Kuyt said: ‘As far as we are aware, the balconies are yet to be added as the local council has suspended planning permission due to a complaint that we made. From the higher properties in the building, it is relatively easy to see directly into our playground, and so residents will have a clear vantage point of our children at break times. We cannot afford to take this risk for safeguarding reasons, and so we have appealed to the developer to have these windows bricked up.’