Families spend thousands on bottled water as floors have dangerous levels of lead

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Tenants at Dorchester Court in south London were petrified and forced to shell out for bottled water after reports showed lead levels far beyond the legal limit.

Ben Archard estimates he has spent £2,000 on bottled water due to fears about lead.
Ben Archard estimates he has spent £2,000 on bottled water due to fears about lead.

Families living in a property in south London say they are living in fear and relying on bottled water after several flats reported lead levels several times above the legal limit.

Tenants at Dorchester Court, a private property of about 300 residents, discovered last week that drinking water from two floors tested had levels of lead several times higher than legally allowed.

While lead pipes are banned for new developments, some older properties, including Dorchester Court, have yet to replace them, MyLondon reports.

Ben Archard, tenant of the estate, is worried about the health of his two young children.

Although the lead levels in your soil are below the legal maximum, there is no “safe” minimum for lead in drinking water.

Dorchester Court resident Estella also relies on bottled water
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Image:

Josiah Mortimer/MyLondon)

At high levels, lead can build up and cause lead poisoning, with infants and young children at risk for developmental problems.

After learning of lead pipes on the estate several years ago, Mr Archard estimates that he has spent £2,000 on bottled water, using a five-litre bottle every day.

He told MyLondon: “The effects of lead on children can be quite extreme. We’d rather take the hit than risk our children’s health.

“The tenants’ union requested evidence and was denied until we approached the council.

“The management company is not interested in improving things unless Lambeth Council forces them to do so. They don’t give a shit.”

Lambeth Council is now testing more flats and could force the estate owner to make urgent changes to the water supply.

Archard says he pays around £4,500 a year in service charges to wholly owned Manaquel Ltd and estimates the company’s additional rental income after tax may be around £1m a year.

He added: “Where does all the money go? They could have easily replaced the lead pipes for that kind of money.”

Dorchester Court resident Estella, who has two children, also relies on bottled water and criticized the owner’s alleged slowness in responding to concerns about lead levels.

Testing has revealed a concerning amount of lead in the water supply to the flats.
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Image:

Josiah Mortimer/MyLondon)

Freeholder Manaquel Ltd is owned by property tycoon Heinrich Feldman, who has been featured on the Sunday Times Rich List with a net worth of over £200m.

Residents have previously described it as a “dishonest landlord after a series of problems on the farm.

A Lambeth Council spokesperson said: “Lambeth Council is doing everything it can to support the residents of Dorchester Court, which is privately owned.

“Following complaints from tenants and tenants about the living conditions in the development, a council inspection found traces of lead in the water supplied to two homes.

“The council has been in contact with the owner and with all the agencies, including Thames Water, to manage the situation. We have made sure residents have been provided with safe drinking water and given them advice on how to stay safe while we conduct further testing…There are no plans to take enforcement action at this stage.”

MyLondon has received an email from the management company, Property Partners, confirming high levels of lead in two of the four flats tested.

It says: “Please do not drink the water from the taps inside the apartment.

“We are arranging for potable water to be delivered to the site…This will be distributed to all apartments until test results are received.”

In a statement, Property Partners told MyLondon that they planned to replace the lead pipes as part of a larger planning application currently with Lambeth Council, which includes building new penthouses on the property.

A spokesman said: “The replacement of lead pipes on the property is part of a larger planning application which Lambeth will determine shortly.”

“The only way to replace lead pipes is for residents to vacate their apartments, as the floors and walls will need to be exposed to do the work…

“Meanwhile, Lambeth is testing various flats on the property over the next week or two with a view to working with us if remedial work is required at short notice.

“It is important to note that to date four floors have been tested, two passed and two failed, one of which was empty, meaning there was standing water in the pipes.

“We hope this provides some clarity and would like to assure you that we are working closely with Lambeth to ensure the safety of all residents.”

Dorchester Court Tenants Union calls for lead pipes to be replaced without relying on planning application.

In 2020, residents faced hot water outages in the winter, and in October of that year, emergency services addressed a major carbon monoxide leak from temporary boilers.

Some residents were taken to the hospital in an ambulance for check-ups.

Heinrich Feldman has not responded to requests for comment.

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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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