Residents have been evacuated from their homes after a block of flats was found to have structural defects and be deemed not safe to be occupied.

As people living in the Eastgate building on Station Approach, Woking, returned home last Friday evening (November 17) they were met with a letter from leaseholder Southern Housing telling them “to evacuate Centrium 1 immediately in the interests of your safety”.

Many of the 100 residents thought to be affected have been relocated to nearby hotel accommodation or are living with family and friends. 

Some, however, say they have been offered accommodation in Addlestone and Camberley.

The letter to residents continued: “We will be undertaking further investigations over the coming days to inform our next steps in relation to the building.

“Due to the complexity of the building issues, and the need for further investigations, we’re unable to give a definitive answer at this stage on how long you’ll be away from your home.

“However, we promise we will be working tirelessly to fully understand the issues and inform you of the next steps.

“We know this is a challenging time and we will be here to help you through this.”

In a further statement, Paul Hackett, chief executive of Southern Housing, said: “This is a complex situation, and we had to make a decision based on the new information available to us provided by our technical and legal advisors. 

“We don’t have all the answers yet.”

Eastgate, a single block containing 61 homes, was completed in September 2005. 

The block was initially owned under a leasehold interest by another housing provider that sold its leasehold interest to Southern Housing in 2018. The original developer was Barratt Homes Limited.

Pressed further by the News & Mail on the specific defects, a spokesman for Southern Housing said: “We were alerted to potential structural issues at Eastgate by Barratt Homes Limited. 

“We commissioned our structural engineer, Conisbee, to carry out a review of the building and have responded in a precautionary way to their initial on-site findings.

“The structural defects uncovered relate to the composition of the concrete used.”

Addressing the question posed by one concerned resident as to why the retail businesses on the ground floor had not been informed nor asked to leave, the spokesman added: “We have the head lease for the residential units only and are unable to make any decisions for the commercial units on the ground floor. 

“We informed the freeholder of our findings, they  have confirmed receipt of our letter and say they are taking urgent action and immediate steps to address our findings.”

Southern Housing is one the largest housing providers in the UK with more than 78,000 homes across London, the South East, the Isle of Wight and the Midlands.