§ Mr. Winnick
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when his Department was first notified of the conditions of the Wimpey No-Fines dwellings in the Blakenall area of Walsall; and whether those conditions exist in such properties in other boroughs.
§ Mr. Waldegrave
[pursuant to his reply, 21 October 1987, c. 830]: Walsall metropolitan borough council informed the Department in August 1984 of an income support scheme that it had initiated for tenants of Wimpey No-Fines houses with high heating costs. But it was not until 22 July 1987 that a deputation of residents from the Blakenall estate, led by the hon. Member for Walsall North, (Mr. Winnick) complained about the condition of their Wimpey No-Fines houses
These conditions are not unique to the Wimpey No-Fines houses in Walsall, although they do not appear to be particularly severe on the Blakenall estate. By today's standards, many Wimpey No-Fines houses are inadequatley insulated and inefficiently heated, and poor maintenance of the external render, windows and doors can allow water penetration into the walls, thus increasing the problems of internal damp and condensation. Many other houses of traditional construction suffer from similar defects, but whereas building professionals arc generally familiar with both these problems and their remedies in traditional houses, this is not so for houses of non-traditional construction.
The Building Research Establishment—BRE—has under way a number of research programmes aimed at providing owners of non-traditional houses, and their professional advisers, with accurate information on their forms of construction, and authoritative advice on good practice in their inspection, assessment, repair, maintenance and improvement. Over the next year the BRE plans to extend its work to houses made of poured—"in situ"—concrete, including Wimpey No-Fines. Officials from my Department have already suggested including the Blakenall estate in this programme, if an empty house can be made available for survey by Walsall MBC.