Fulham Residents Face Massive Bill to Repair Flood Defences

People living in Carrara Wharf being asked to contribute to £8.2million upgrade

Alan Barker and Mandy in front of 'London's most expensive wall'
Alan Barker and Mandy in front of 'London's most expensive wall'

Fulham families have been left stunned after they claimed they were asked to fork out £820,000 to fix a flood defence near their home. Residents at Carrara Wharf in Fulham say they were told it would cost £8.2 million to fix a tiny wall, and that they were expected to pay 10 per cent of the massive bill.

The 89 households that make up the riverside estate were shocked to be told by the Environment Agency that they could be hit with the huge bill to help protect their homes from flooding. When residents asked the Environment Agency about the letter, they claim that they were told responsibility for the flood defences outside their home rested with them under an old law – the Metropolis Management Amendment Act 1879.

Mandy, who did not want to give her surname, live metres from the wall. She said, “How do you spend £8 million on a small wall it’s just ridiculous. How can they justify that money? You are constantly pricing people out of London by putting these liabilities in.

“They are using a 143-year-old act to charge everybody that lives nearby. Just because it’s at the edge of our property doesn’t mean it’s our wall.”

The Environment Agency will pay for 90 per cent of the cost and the Carrara Wharf management group has been asked to pay the remaining 10 per cent. But this could still leave residents with a bill of £9,213 on average since the Carrara Wharf residents will have to pay £820,000 between their households.

A site inspection of the area in 2017 discovered that the wall would not be able to protect the nearby flats from flooding and that something would need to be done. Although residents were first given several options with different costs, the Environment Agency has said an £8.2million upgrade for the wall is the only option.

Carrara Wharf
Carrara Wharf

The huge price tag is 10 times more expensive than a two-bedroom house in Carrara Wharf. Dina, who also did not want to give her second name, lives metres from Carrara Wharf. She said: “Can you imagine you buy a property and after 10 or 15 years someone just turns up one day and asks you to pay up.”

Carrara Wharf residents were even more confused by the huge cost after discovering similar work on a council-owned section of wall at Furnivall Gardens cost £28,000.

But residents are not just worried about the £10,000 payment. They are concerned that if they pay they will then be responsible for any future repairs – and they could have to pay for more flood defences in the years to come.

The issue has also made it harder for residents to sell their homes. Since there is uncertainty around the wall, buyers are being put off. Resident Alan Barker said: “I think it could devalue my flat by about 25 per cent. It could take 50 per cent off my house price – I just don’t know.

“It’s not just the £10,000 now. It could be £10,000 a year for the rest of my life. I could try and sell the property but I wouldn’t get much because [the house would come with a very pricey wall].”

Mandy said, “Would people really buy homes near the Thames if they were aware that at will the EA could approach developments at any time and impose such onerous conditions of imposing multi-million pound liabilities?”

The repairs to the flood wall are part of the Thames Estuary 2100 Plan, which sets out how to protect London from tidal flooding. The project protects more than 1.4 million people and £320billion worth of property.

Jacob Phillips - Local Democracy Reporter

September 14, 2022