A new independent expert has been hired to see if cladding will fix a damp problem in an estate in west Dulwich.  

Kingswood Estate, built in the 1950s and home to 700 council tenants and private owners, has suffered damp problems for years. 

Southwark Council is planning to install external insulation to fix the problem – which it originally wanted to charge leaseholders between £20,000 and £40,000 for – but residents are not convinced it is the right move.   

Although they welcomed the U-turn on charging leaseholders at the Kingswood Estate Tenants and Residents Association annual general meeting in November, they demanded the council bring in an independent surveyor to gather evidence of the best way forward to target the damp. 

Tensions were high at the meeting, where residents told of “deplorable” living conditions and weeks-long waiting times for repairs.   

It was clear many residents did not back the cladding proposal and vice chair Alex Diwar said “whether [the insulation] is a cure for damp is something that’s a matter of debate”.  

He said: “Firstly EWI (external wall insulation) is regularly botched and there are plenty of case studies where it’s actually made damp worse.”  

Mr Diwar called for “an independent, nationally recognised, external wall insulation damp and historic buildings expert” to scrutinise the plans. 

Councillor Kieron Williams, cabinet member for housing management and modernisation, gave the update at cabinet on Tuesday (January 21).  

He said: “The main thing to say is that we have now appointed an independent expert to look in particular at the use of external wall insulation on the estate to see if that is the right solution for the estate.  

“They will produce a report that will go straight to residents so they can look at whether it will solve the damp problems, which is the primary reason for doing it.  

“That work has now been commissioned and we’ll be done in two or three months’ time.”