Newly-built homes worth £20million to be demolished 'due to unsound foundations'

The site where the home were torn down shows lots of new build homes
Homes which were built as part of a new home development project are being demolished due to problems with their foundations (Image credit: Google Earth)

Dozens of newly built homes worth up to £20 million are set to be torn-down due being built on structurally unsound foundations, according to reports.

The development site in Cambridge has plans to develop up to 2,500 new, high-quality homes, but after just 90 new homes were built 36 will have to be removed after the developer found faults in their construction.

The story reveals the potential pitfalls that come with building a house if you don't get the initial steps right when breaking ground.

Why are the homes being torn-down?

Cambridgeshire council became aware of failures in the foundations of buildings at different stages of the construction process on the site before finally receiving a demolition notice for the 36 homes.

A spokesperson for Barratt and David Wilson Homes Cambridgeshire, the developers of the site, said: "We have an extensive quality assurance process and during inspections we found that a small number of unoccupied properties at our Darwin Green development did not meet our usual high standards.

VISIT THE HOMEBUILDING & RENOVATING SHOW

The NEC, Birimingham, Homebuilding & Renovating Show promo image

(Image credit: Future)

Need more advice or inspiration for your project? Get two free tickets to the Homebuilding & Renovating Show

"Unfortunately, the most effective course of action at this stage is to demolish the properties and rebuild them. We have apologised to the customers affected and understand their frustrations, but we are doing all that we can to lessen the impact of this for them."

The reasons why the homes were taken down is not yet clear, although the Architects Journal believes the home was built on trench-fill foundations which did not allow sufficient heave protection, causing the foundations to move.

It is also reported that cracks appeared in the walls after work began on the superstructure of the properties, prompting the developer to take the decision to demolish the houses. 

Development part of plans for 2,500 new homes

The development was on the former University of Cambridge playing fields which has planning permission to be turned into 450 homes as part of the Darwin Green scheme, with each property worth up to £850,000. 

The scheme has further planning for 2,500 homes along with a school and community facilities to be eventually implemented.

However, it is understood around 90 plots, including 36 which were mid-build, will have to be demolished due to faulty foundations.

The houses slated for demolition are a component of the Darwin Green development, situated on the outskirts of Cambridge, and were designed by Allies and Morrison. It has been reported that a portion of these houses had already been sold to buyers eagerly awaiting their move-in date.

Allies and Morrison, the architectural firm that secured planning permission for the project in July of the previous year, has clarified that they are not involved in the construction or subsequent stages of the development. Therefore, they claim they are unable to provide any comments on the works carried out on the site.

Overhead view of the development shows new builds next to an empty plot of land

The decision to take down 36 of the new homes has caused concerns amongst other residents living in nearby properties that their homes could also be structurally unsound (Image credit: Google Earth)

Discovery prompts other residents to worry

The recent discovery has prompted fear among residents living in the neighbouring properties, who are already occupying them. 

Cambridge City councillor Simon Smith has emphasised the need for reassurance regarding the safety of their houses' foundations. Councillor Simon Smith stated the demolition was a "waste" and found it even more concerning considering the well-known issues associated with the plasticity of soil conditions in the area.

In response to the situation, local Liberal Democrat councillor Cheney Payne has called for a thorough investigation into the matter.

However, the developer has claimed the matter is "isolated" and does not affect its other builds. A spokesperson put out a statement claiming Barratt David Wilson Homes is "focused on ensuring that the demolition of the properties causes as little disruption as possible for existing residents".

They added: "In addition to the extensive inspections carried out during construction, all existing properties were signed off by approved building control inspectors. 

"To offer further reassurance, over the past fortnight an expert independent engineering firm has reviewed all existing properties on the site and has provided their report today outlining that there are no concerns."

Joseph Mullane
News Editor

News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals.  Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.