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Resident asks Prince Charles for ‘eco homes’ help

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A resident of an environmentally-friendly housing development in Northampton has written to Prince Charles asking for help to fix problems he has encountered in his new eco-home.

The Upton housing development, which opened in 2004, includes more than 1,000 eco-homes which were designed with personal input from the Prince, who is an enthusiastic supporter of green energy.

But Martin Vaughan, who moved to Upton in summer 2009, said he had been forced to deal with a catalogue of plumbing problems.

These included burst pipes and leaking seals, over the past four years, which he believes has been related to the energy-saving solar heating system installed in his property.

At the end of last year, Mr Vaughan found that the solar panels on his roof had leaked into his loft cavity.

But after contacting property developer Miller Homes, Mr Vaughan was told that the house was now outside the two-year warranty and he would have to pay for the repairs himself.

Mr Vaughan has now written to Prince Charles, who has visited the Upton development twice since it was opened.

His letter stated: “As you (Prince Charles) are someone who encourages the use of solar/green energy and says it is the way people like myself and others should go, I would like you to try to help us to sort this matter out. The problems residents are encountering are giving green energy a bad name and people are asking if this is the way that we should be going in new energy sources.”

Former Northampton Borough Councillor Jill Hope has organised a public meeting at on Tuesday at 7.30pm at Upton Primary School to discuss any complaints that residents may have about the way their houses have been designed.

A spokesman for Miller Homes said an independent inspection had been carried out on a selection of houses to investigate issues relating to the solar installations.

A spokesman said: “At this time, we are aware of only one customer with concerns relating to the installed solar installation. However, these issues became apparent outside of the warranty period and despite our offer to investigate these concerns via an independent consultant; this has been refused by the property owner.”

“A number of issues relating to the solar installations at Upton Green were reported within warranty. As a consequence of those concerns, we arranged for an independent inspection to be carried out on a selection of plots. Following that review, all plots with solar installations were contacted and visited in order to complete any identified & necessary improvements.

“At the time of completing these works, a number of properties were beyond the developer’s warranty period of 24 months; however, all plots received the same level of service and remediation. In all instances and covering all works undertaken, as a courtesy we agreed to extend the warranty at that time to all customers by 12 months.

“Following completion of all required improvements, all customers were provided with a copy of the ‘Solar System Installation operating guide’ which clearly highlighted the need to regularly maintain the installation.

“At this time, we are aware of only one customer with concerns relating to the installed solar installation. However, these issues became apparent outside of the warranty period and despite our offer to investigate these concerns via an independent consultant; this has been refused by the property owner.

“Regarding all other properties, we are not aware of any outstanding issues following our remedial works for which we are responsible to undertake, however we would advise any customers with concerns to contact our customer care department in order that their issues can be investigated fully.”

 

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