A ROW has broken out over who should pay to repair homes blighted by catastrophic flooding.
Dunelm Homes, which built the Mill Vale Estate in Newburn, has accused Northumberland Estates of backing out of a legal agreement to take responsibility.
But the property firm, owned by the Duke of Northumberland, has strongly denied the allegation, saying it has already spent £3.4m and is doing everything it can to sort out the problems so residents can return home.
Flooding struck the Mill Vale Estate four times between May and September, including the final culvert collapse on September 25 which left one Spencer Court block teetering on the edge of a gaping hole in the ground.
In the days that followed, many families criticised Dunelm Homes, who built the houses less than a decade ago, for failing to take charge of the situation.
At the time the company said the repairs were not its responsibility or within its control. But on October 1, the company made goodwill payments to affected householders and organised work which has now resulted in numbers 14 to 21 Spencer Court demolished.
Now, Dunelm Homes have claimed it had expected Northumberland Estates to do the work, but that it backed out on an earlier deal. In a statement Dunelm Homes said on June 29, Northumberland Estates told Newcastle City Council and residents it would take responsibility for managing the situation while it repaired the damage to its culvert.
Consequently, Dunelm Homes claim, Northumberland Estates asked the Newton Aycliffe-based house builder if it could enter into a Formal Licence Agreement to allow contractors and consultants to enter the land and carry out pumping, flood defence and remedial works “with agreement to indemnify and insure Dunelm Homes against any loss”.
Dunelm allege on September 30, Northumberland Estates said it was backing out “effectively handing back the site to Dunelm Homes as the freeholder, without fulfilling the repair and reinstatement obligations”.
When asked to clarify the claims, Dunelm Homes refused to comment, but a spokesman for Northumberland Estates rebuked any suggestion the firm had done anything wrong.