WORK to rid several high-rise blocks of flats of a mysterious algae has begun.
The unsightly mould - known as algae blooms - began growing on the tower blocks at Scholes Village three years ago after the buildings were fitted with a high-tech membrane six years ago at a cost of £10million.
The membrane was intended to keep tenants cool in summer and help with heating bills in winter but in 2012 mysterious green patches began to appear across the external walls of Crompton, Mannion, Derby, Woodcock and Brook House flats.
The first phase of remediation work began earlier this month and will see contractor Seddon, improve the exterior render on Brook House, with work expected to take up to eight months.
Wigan and Leigh Homes says it has been working closely with residents living in all the blocks affected.
Matt Roberts, director of asset management and development at Wigan and Leigh Homes, said: “We have been working for some time in partnership with our contractor to find a solution to the issues with the cladding system.
“We are delighted that work has now started on site and hope residents will be pleased with the finished works.
“We would like to thank the residents for their patience and cooperation during the consultation period.”
The work is a victory for the residents who have worked for years to get the problem sorted and is a legacy for Syd Hall, a former leaseholder representative who had lived in Crompton House for 25 years.
Mr Hall told the Wigan Evening Post when the problem first arose: “These flats have been up 40 years and the original brick work looked fine with not a trace of green on any single one of them, so this rendering has made them look a lot worse, not better and seems to have been a total waste of money.”
He feared that the problem was putting off potential buyers
He sadly died before the proposed solution was found.
Some residents had feared that the mould, which got worse as time went on, could be affecting their health and described it as an “embarrasment”.
One resident, who asked not to be named, said: “We have all been worried about whether the stuff if a health risk, although the housing insist it isn’t.
“Two of those I know who have bought their flats under Right to Buy have had them up for sale and they have said prospective buyers who came to look commented on the green patches and have been put off because it looks like damp is getting in even if it isn’t.”
WALH maintained that the algae was naturally occurring and had been made worse by a particularly wet summer in 2012.
The delay in solving the problem has been caused by a legal battle over who was responsible for the mould and it remains unclear who has taken responsibility.
A two-yearly cleaning operation had been considered by WALH and the contractor and product manufacturer have previously chemically treated small test areas of render with an anti-fungicidal product.
WALH had always assured residents that the mould only affected the appearance of the buildings and not their structural integrity.