Lucky escape as slabs fall from Napsbury Park home

PUBLISHED: 06:51 01 September 2011

Napsbury Park, London Colney.  Fallen masonary.

Napsbury Park, London Colney. Fallen masonary.

A FAMILY narrowly escaped serious injury on Tuesday night when the coping slabs from the roof of their Napsbury Park “dream home” came crashing down outside.

The Jacobs family, who moved into the three-storey home on Beningfield Drive, London Colney, just two weeks ago, watched as three-inch slabs tumbled from the parapet wall on their end terrace house onto the drive below.

Investigations are underway to determine the cause of the damage but concerns have arisen that other houses in Napsbury Park could suffer the same fate, as this is the second incident on the estate.

Sam Jacobs, who recently moved with his wife and children from Shenley, said a structural engineer from the district council had been to assess the building and suggested to him that other properties in the vicinity might be at risk.

Firefighters first attended the scene at around 10pm on Tuesday when Sam reported falling masonry.

Sam said: “We were at home and heard a massive rumbling sound and then a huge bang. There was more rumbling and we ran outside, as did many of our neighbours, but because it was dark, we couldn’t see much.

“The firefighters were amazing and here within moments and so too was the structural engineer. He inspected everything and suggested that the same aspect on the rear of the house was also in danger of collapsing, so we were advised not to go into the back garden.

“Nobody was hurt, which is a relief but it was very frightening and my wife and children are very distressed. We were standing outside watching our dream home tumbling down in front of us.”

Sam added that Crest Nicholson, the developers behind the property, had been excellent. “They’ve been very good and were quick to get here. We’re happy with their response, so far.”

A spokesperson for the council confirmed that someone from their building control team had attended the incident and assessed the site, once the fire service made it safe. She said: “Advice was given as to what works need to be carried out. The site has been made safe and there is no danger to the public.”

She revealed that the building control manager had made a second visit to the site on Wednesday.

But the incident has made neighbours anxious about their own properties with one revealing she had already made contact with the National House-Building Council to check what she should do and whether her property, a new build, was covered under their new-build guarantee.

Another resident said she was just relieved that the contractors had come down to the property and reassured the family. “I’m not sure this would have been the case if the paper wasn’t here. I think we might have encountered more hurdles had you not been present.”

Richard Biddlecombe, the chair of Napsbury Park Residents Association, said he was concerned that the incident mirrored another on Farm Crescent which saw significant damage to the residents’ garage. Crest Nicholson was not responsible for the construction of that property but for Richard, it highlights an urgent issue which needs further investigation.

He said: “Crest need to investigate this further and ensure that all houses with coping stones are checked. I know a house on Farm Crescent, which wasn’t the one affected, who got a company in to make their home safe and they shouldn’t have had to.”

If the company was found to be responsible for poor workmanship, it had to take responsibility for the situation, he went on.

Richard gave an assurance that the residents association would monitor the situation closely so they could advise residents about the appropriate course of action if any property was at risk.

A spokesperson for Crest Nicholson said: “We were concerned to hear about the incident at Napsbury Park and immediately launched a thorough investigation into the matter. The results of the investigation will enable us to identify and swiftly undertake an necessary remedial works at the site.”

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