AN investigation is under way into the appearance of a strange algae on a high-rise block of flats.
A high-tech membrane was installed on Scholes Village flats at a cost of £10m just three years ago. It is designed to keep tenants cool in summer and help with heating bills in winter.
But over the last few weeks mysterious green patches and bands – some more than two feet deep – have appeared across most of the blocks on the south facing external walls of Crompton, Mannion, Derby, Woodcock and Brookhouse flats.
At least 20 of the flats have been sold under Right To Buy scehe, and Leaseholders representative Syd Hall says the discolouration is putting off potential buyers.
Wigan and Leigh Housing are now said to be considering a scheme for a new external cleaning operation every two years but they are believed to be in negotiations with the membrane manufacturers over liability.
Mr Hall, who has lived in Crompton House for the past 25 years, said: “We have noticed green patches appearing on the walls of the exterior insulation cladding of all five blocks flats.
“Several leaseholders have approached me, asking me to bring it to the attention of the management of Wigan and Leigh Housing, because they are concerned about just what this discolouration is, why it is there and what it could mean?
“All we know at the present time is that this green stuff looks a mess and could be an indication of something serious.
“Two of the leaseholders who have their flats up for sale have said prospective buyers who came to look at their properties had passed comments on the green patches.
“One of them said this had put them off buying one because they feared it was caused by damp coming into the walls.
“There seems to be a lack of clarity as to which of the contractors will accept responsibilty for the problem and we need some answers about what is going to happen, because it is quite a worry.
Wigan and Leigh Housing Chief Executive Ashley Crumbley says: “We are aware that an algae has developed on localised areas of the external paint. The exceptional wet summer and damp conditions seems to be a factor.
“Whilst it has discoloured the decorative paint finish it has not affected the structural integrity of the building.
“We are also not having any problems of dampness affecting the flats.
“We have already met with the contractor who carried out the work. Under the terms of the building contract they are obliged to remedy the defect and they are now looking at a range of options. We have stressed we want to see a robust and long-term solution.
“The contractor and product manufacturer have already chemically treated a small test area of render with an anti-fungicidal product.
“However, before we accept their recommendations we want to be sure that the final solution is robust.”