Balconies to be replaced at city flats

NEAR MISS Jay Hewett and Kayleigh Wall outside their flat where the balcony has collapsed
NEAR MISS Jay Hewett and Kayleigh Wall outside their flat where the balcony has collapsed
Fly-tipping in Harold Road. Picture: Andrew Pearce

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A YOUNG couple have described their terror as their balcony peeled away from the wall – while they were on it.

Jay Hewett, 22, and Kayleigh Wall, 21, were on the terrace outside their first floor flat, when the brick structure started giving way.

UNSAFE? Balconies at Grenville House in Portsmouth

UNSAFE? Balconies at Grenville House in Portsmouth

Now every balcony at Grenville House in Portsea is to be replaced, with residents told not to venture out on to them.

Portsmouth City Council, which owns the seven-storey block at St George’s Square, said the balconies had metal bars to support them – many of which have rusted.

It will now spend £218,997 replacing every single balcony on the building.

Mr Hewett said: ‘I was just leaning on the balcony wall and it started to come away. The brick fell away from the limestone top. I just jumped back away through the door, but it was really scary.’

Mr Hewett and Ms Wall moved into the block with their seven-month-old daughter in 2008, and say the balcony had cracks in it even then.

Ms Wall said: ‘We had reported it, but nothing was done about it then. Even so, we never expected this.

‘We’d just like it fixed because it was really scary.’

Each terrace will be replaced with new stainless steel-framed, panelled balconies, which the council says are resistant to the weather and will be safer.

Work should start within a few weeks.

But some residents are angry at the wait.

Claire Jeftha, who lives in a flat on a higher floor of the block, said: ‘It makes me feel like a prisoner in my own home to be kept off the balcony.

‘It’s like an extra room in the house and not having it is really upsetting.

‘I spend a lot of time on it when I can so I really don’t like being kept off it.

‘I have been here 21 years and it’s had cracks in it since then, so if it was dangerous, why didn’t it need work sooner?’

James Hill, the council’s housing manager, said: ‘The safety of our residents is our main priority, so we undertook minor repairs, where necessary, to ensure the integrity of the balconies, and restricted residents’ access while we sought planning permission.

‘The works should start during May.’