Kirkfieldbank home buyers face huge bill for housing scheme wall

The retaining wall between the streets has become dangerous.
The retaining wall between the streets has become dangerous.

Families who bought council houses in Kirkfieldbank years ago are facing bills of thousands of pounds to repair a retaining wall built in the 1950s.

And they say that South Lanarkshire Council is threatening to sue them if they don’t pay up.

One family says that at a meeting in Lanark Memorial Hall they were told that an engineer had discovered the wall had not been built properly.

“The foundations have not been dug deep enough,” said Helen Stewart, who lives with her husband Colin in Orchardview Drive. “The council caused the problem, and they want us to pay for it.”

They have been told they will have to pay £9,500 for the repair.

Another woman faces a bill of £11,500, an 87-year-old man is being billed £6,900 and a fourth neighbour £8,500.

Another man who attended the meeting agreed with her, saying: “They said when the wall was first built by the council, it was not built properly, and that it why is it unsafe.”

The retaining wall runs between houses in Orchardview Drive and Linn Crescent, and Mrs Stewart said that further checks could be carried out in 12 months’ time and other home-owners further along could face bills too.

“I have been in that house for over 30 years, and the wall has been reported for years and years and years,” said Mrs Stewart.

“They kept saying there was nothing wrong with the wall, but now they are saying it is dangerous and asking us to pay.”

The council called a meeting of home owners, not tenants, in the memorial hall.

“When we went to the meeting, they told us the engineer had said it had not been erected properly,” said Mrs Stewart. “If that is the case, why should we have to pay for something that was a council mistake all those years ago?

“We are being asked to maintain a retaining wall, and we can’t even see the wall to maintain it.

“They are admitting liability but wanting us to pay for their mistakes.”

She said that the home-owners had also been told they would have to move greenhouses and even oil tanks from their garden for the work, and she reckoned moving her oil tank would also cost thousands of pounds.

Mrs Stewart has health problems, and she added: “The stress this has caused is terrible. It is absolutely disgusting the pressure they are putting on home-owners and people who are not well.”

There was a tiny hope of help from the council this week as it is promising a further review of the work to look at the costs, but it disputes that the foundations are to blame and is still adamant that the householders are responsible for part of the bill.

The council’s executive director of housing and technical resources, Daniel Lowe, said: “The council is aware of the serious structural problems with the retaining wall between properties at Orchardview Drive and Linn Crescent and has undertaken to carry out a further review of the options available to carry out repairs required in the most cost-effective manner possible.

“The council has also undertaken to explore any grant assistance which can be offered to owners.

“However, the wall is jointly owned by all of the residents affected and, therefore, the council is only responsible for cost of repair for the properties we own.”