RESIDENTS of a plush housing estate have been awarded almost £900,000 in damages after winning a High Court battle against the developers.
Homeowners on Eden Park, off Hart Lane, in Hartlepool, took Shepherd Homes to court after suffering cracks and subsidence of their homes which left them unable to sell them.
York-based Shepherd Homes has been ordered to pay a total of £877,943 damages to families in 10 lead cases.
Residents in Clover Drive, Meadowgate Drive, Barley Close and Hayfield Close, are to receive pay-outs of between £65,925 and £124,375.
But the final bill could be much higher as around 40 more homeowners on the estate are also seeking compensation.
The housing firm built the 95-home executive development between 2001 and 2004.
But since March 2003 residents said their dreams had turned into nightmares as they suffered cracks and movement, with patios and paths sinking up to 10 inches.
Mr Justice Ramsey, sitting at the High Court in London, found the developer had breached the homeowner’s Buildmark Cover and the Defective Premises Act.
He said: “There can be no question that the claimants have each suffered from the fact that the houses, which they have bought, had defective piles.
“It has caused them great worry and concern and prevented them from moving home when they wanted to, or from fully enjoying the houses which they have purchased.
“In such circumstances, there is great sympathy with the position in which the claimants have found themselves and an obvious wish to provide the claimants with proper damages.
“On the basis of my findings on these lead cases it is hoped that the parties will be able to resolve the claims on the remaining properties.”
The damages were calculated based on the loss in value to the affected properties, rather than the cost of repairing the properties which would involve partial demolition and rebuilding.
Mr Justice Ramsey added: “As a matter of policy the damages for this loss are modest and the physical aspects must be differentiated from the considerable worry, anxiety and other problems which the claimants have undoubtedly suffered because of Shepherd Homes Limited’s breaches but for which there is no recovery of damages in law.”
Speaking after the hearing Alison Leith, partner with Tilly Bailey and Irvine Solicitors in Hartlepool, which has represented the homeowners, said: “We are delighted that after six-and-a-half years a senior judge in the Technology and Construction Court has agreed that Shepherd Homes Limited is liable to our clients and has ordered them to pay the home owners substantial damages.
“Our clients have suffered considerable distress and inconvenience.
“This judgment is the next step in resolving these issues and providing the homeowners with the compensation they deserve.”
A spokesman for Shepherd Homes said: “We are reviewing the judgment and details of what has been a very complex case and will continue to work responsibly with all the parties involved to resolve the outstanding issues.”