Architect blasts red tape as he’s told MANSION isn’t suitable for Ukraine refugees

Mike Rundell, 62, who has designed homes for Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, has been told he will need to ‘upgrade’ his multi-million pound mansion if he wants to host a Ukrainian family

Mike Rundell, 62, wants to open his home to a Ukrainian mum and her three children

A renowned architect claims he has been told he will need to “upgrade” his multi-million pound mansion if he wants to open his doors to Ukrainian refugees.

Mike Rundell, 62, lives in a Grade II-listed five-bedroom villa in Herne Hill, south London, and is hoping to offer two bedrooms to a Ukrainian mother and her three children.

Masha Chykina, 42, fled her home in Kyiv via Poland with children Sofia, 13, Ivan, 11, and Viacheslav, 10, while their father Dima has stayed behind to aid the war effort.

The family are currently among 18 refugees sleeping on the floor of a church in Cologne, Germany and Mr Rundell applied to host them three weeks ago.

However, he claims that when Lambeth Council contacted him he was told he would need to comply with a list of upgrades before any refugees could move in.

Are the council making things too hard? Have your say in the comment section

The architect lives in a Grade II-listed five-bedroom villa in Herne Hill



He claims these include the installation of extra fire alarms on each floor of the house, locks on the windows, and the receipt of a ‘Gas Safe’ certificate.

Mr Rundell, who has designed homes for Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, told the Daily Mail: “These are administrative hurdles which I believe have been set up because somebody somewhere said ‘Don’t make this too easy’.

“We need a high enough barrier to jump over that will keep the flood of refugees down. I think that’s outrageous but I will jump over them.”

He added: “The prescriptive list of requirements goes beyond what is required for my kids to live in my home.

I have applied to host the family three weeks ago



“This is an emergency, the family is desperate to get somewhere where they can start to live a normal life again, and a more flexible and less bureaucratic approach is simply essential.”

Mr Rundell says the bedroom windows in his property can be closed by not locked, there is a smoke alarm on the ground floor and he has never knowingly been issued with a Gas Safe certificate.

Describing the requirements as “petty”, he noted that the bureaucracy was preventing the family from being in a “comfortable, spacious house with a perfect garden for children to play in”.

Mr Rundell gave a tour of his house during an interview with GB News



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Mr Rundell gave a tour of his house during an interview with GB News, in which he told the channel: “My house is very beautiful, I have two lovely bedrooms, I’m very lucky to have the kind of spaces that I know people would love to live in.”

The Ukrainian family would be living with Mr Rundell, his partner and his daughter Saskia, 15. One of the two bedrooms he has offered them comes with a terrace and en-suite.

The architect, who lived in Russia for eight years and whose children are half-Russian, said he wanted to “show not all Russians support this war”.

A Government spokesman said: “The British public are being incredibly generous by opening their homes to thousands of Ukrainians fleeing a devastating conflict, but it is right that we make sure accommodation is safe and appropriate by asking local authorities to visit once visa applications are submitted .”

A spokesperson for Lambeth Council said: “Lambeth has opened its arms to the people fleeing the war in Ukraine and we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure our residents can host as many people as possible through the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme. Scores of residents have already registered their interest in hosting people fleeing the war in Ukraine, and the council is carrying out inspections of properties in line with the guidance the government has provided.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that the homes offered to Ukrainian refugees are as safe and comfortable as possible, and meet the standards we’d expect from accommodation offered to people in our borough.

“The Homes for Ukraine scheme guidance makes councils responsible for property inspections. We have therefore been carrying out inspections on all potential properties, to ensure they meet the standards for sponsors, set out by the government. These include safety guidance such as having a working smoke detector on each floor of the property.

“None of the properties we have assessed so far and have been found to be inadequate under the guidelines. Where alterations are required under the guidance, we have been offering help and advice to residents, to ensure that their homes are ready to welcome refugees from Ukraine as soon as possible.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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