HomeAbout UsRepairsGas storyYouTubeEventsMeetingsTime travel
A guide to the gas problem in Strawberry Vale
Strawberry Vale, London N2 Strawberry Vale is a Peabody owned estate in East Finchley, London N2. Strawberry Vale London N2
Lunch Since January 20th 2016 most of the 600+ residents have been without gas for cooking, some have had no heating or hot water.

Local volunteers and The Red Cross distributed hot meals for ten days until Peabody handed out temporary electric cookers.
The estate gas supply for cooking was turned off when a main gas meter for the estate failed. Peabody had the meter replaced but did not restore the gas supply. They told residents the gas supply for cooking would never be restored and that all residents would have to switch to electricity.

Peabody claimed they could not restore the supply because it was unsafe. They have failed to produce any evidence to support their claim and,  when challenged, have changed what they identify as the problem.  Residents started legal action to force the supply to be restored and to claim compensation. Peabody then revealed that they have never had legally required safety certificates in place for the gas supply network and it was for this reason that they didn't want to restore the gas supply.
Strawberry Vale, London N2 Background

Strawberry Vale has 270 homes on it. About 50 are leasehold or freehold, the rest are tenanted. It was built in 1975 - 1980 with district heating, an energy efficient system where estate gas boilers pump hot water around the estate to provide central heating and hot water to the homes. A gas supply ring main owned and maintained by Peabody is distributed from the estate meter room and provides all the homes with gas for cooking.

The main gas supply on to the estate is provided by National Grid. It enters the estate meter room and divides in two:

The first supply pipe passes through a meter and then on to the estate boiler room for the district heating system. The boilers consume 95% of the gas delivered to the estate, have had no problem with gas supply and continue to function normally delivering hot water for central heating around the estate.
The second supply pipe passes through a different meter and then enters the gas ring main around the estate which delivers gas for cooking. The ring main is designed to equalise pressure and it was renewed in 2009. Leaseholders and freeholders were charged about £4000 each for this work. It takes only 5% of the gas used on the estate. Generally, residents do not have individual gas meters but pay Peabody, the Housing Association, for their gas, hot water and heating by a service charge.

Up to ten homes are not on the district heating system but have their own boilers for heating and hot water fed with gas from the Peabody owned ring main. Two of these homes are still without central heating and hot water since the cooking gas supply was cut off.
Strawberry Vale, London N2
Timeline of events in brief:

20th Jan.   The gas supply is turned off by National Grid because a meter is faulty.
22nd Jan.   Peabody acknowledge the fault and replace the meter but do not restore the supply.
28th Jan.    Peabody say the gas will not be restored because the National Grid supply is unreliable and therefore unsafe.
29th Jan.    National Grid prove the supply is correct and safe.
31st Jan.    Peabody now say the problem lies with their ring main gas circuit on the estate.
                   But, it is seven years old, has no record of faults and, because it is shut down, has not been tested.
5th Feb.     Residents begin legal challenge.
9th Feb.     Peabody now say they might restore supply if it is possible to correct the ring main faults.
22nd Feb.  Peabody say it might take another three months....
26th Feb.   Peabody tell the truth - finally!  Incredibly they have been running a gas supply system to 270 homes without the
                  safety certificates required by law for 18 years!
4th March  Peabody announce they will restore the gas supply - but it will take them three months.
11th Mar.   The first homes are reconnected.
Strawberry Vale, London N2