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Chairman of Housing Association Responsible for Defective Development Resigns

The chairman of a housing association in the midst of a scandal surrounding an East London residential development has confirmed that he is retiring.

Sir Robin Young, a longtime civil servant, became chair of the new Clarion Housing Group when it was established in December 2016, but will now leave in April.

The announcement comes three weeks after a report was published on Orchard Village, an estate in Havering whose residents complain of serious problems ranging from mold and damp to dangerous toxic gas levels.

Orchard Village cost around £80m to build, over £30m of which was public funding. As a result of a residents’ campaign, Clarion pledged to buy back freeholder-owned properties. Tenants have been offered compensation which has so far ammounted to £100 per household.

Sir Young had previously been the chairman of Circle Housing, which owned and managed Orchard Village, before it merged with the housing group Affinity Sutton to form Clarion, which heads approximately 125,000 homes across England.

This move comes after Clarion lost its deputy chief executive, another former Circle Housing senior executive.

 

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In an official statement, Sir Young said that he enjoyed his time in social housing and that it was time to stand down after over eight years. Clarion did not comment on whether he was stepping down due to recent criticisms about Circle, the Clarion group problems, or the Orchard Village issues.

The problems facing the Clarion group also include issues in Tower Hamlets, where residents had experienced leaks, poor heating, and damaged walls and ceilings. Last October the area’s MP warned that there was a trend towards larger, more remote housing associations that were less accountable to their communities.

Last December the Homes and Communities Agency, the official housing regulatory, said that the Circle had breached its home standard and put its tenants at serious risk. These conclusions drove the agency to hit the Clarion Group with a warning about the potential of serious danger to its residents.

The HCA has also considered new complaints arising from Clarion’s response to issues experienced by disabled and vulnerable tenants at Orchard Village, such as leaks, mold, and sewage, but opted not to act. The agency acknowledged in official correspondence that such conditions would cause distress, frustration, and worry, but that responsibility for addressing them now rested with Clarion.

Clarion previously stated that its project team had already made progress in dealing with the Orchard Village build defects, and during that time, it has provided residents with a fast response and action to any general repair issues or defects.

Regarding allegations of dangerous toxic gas levels, Clarion said that it was taking the concerns of residents seriously, and has now ordered several rigorous scientific tests.

 

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