Anger with Rowland Homes after Wesham residents say they were 'mislead' by housebuilders over fibre broadband
A group of residents on a new-build housing estate in Wesham have blasted the development’s housebuilder for installing ‘archaic’ broadband lines despite sales staff allegedly advising customers superfast fibre-broadband would be fitted.
The Pastures development off Fleetwood Road in the village has been under construction since 2015 with two different phases being built by Rowland Homes and when it’s finally completed around 280 houses will be on the site.
Despite the large development, of which more than 200 families have already moved in, the housebuilder has only fitted copper broadband lines which has had a ‘horrendous’ consequence for many of the residents.
Via a Facebook community group for the estate, residents have been sharing the problems they have been encountering with the broadband connections
Colin Bowman moved to the estate as it had “good connections” across the county and it was on the outskirts.
He first became aware of the broadband nightmare just a few months after moving into his home.
He said: “After nearly six months when we had everything set up and had got internet we wondered when fibre was going to be fitted.
“I checked on the Openreach website and I was surprised to see there was no plans to connect the estate to fibre.
“I gave it another six months, which was July last year, and there was still not change.
“The problems, which I think is the same for most people, crystallised during lockdown. I was classed as vulnerable and I had to shield for five months.
“Working from home it became really apparent how bad the internet was. We are getting around five to six mbps (megabytes per second) and the average UKdownload speeds are 10-11 mbps.”
Colin explained how residents on the estate started to realise others were having the same problems after he shared a post in the community group on Facebook.
He said: “I received a torrent of responses and it was clear that a lot of people were angry. I contacted Rowland to advise that residents are not happy fibre hasn’t been installed and I was told that it has not explicably said to anyone that fibre would be coming to the estate.”
Following this Colin got in touch with Openreach, who install broadband wires and connections across the country, to see if they would be able to install fibre at The Pastures.
The company replied to advise it could install fibre for the estate but residents would have to cough £61,231 for it to be done, around £280.91 per household.
Colin said: “It’s a kick in the teeth really. Rowland should take a more active approach with what has happened but I was advised that it is our responsibility.”
Fylde MP Mark Menzies was made aware of the residents’ situation and said he was “determined to pursue it further.”
Replying to Colin, he said: “I know that this is not an isolated issue, with a number of communities across Fylde, predominantly in our rural areas, experiencing similar problems. Recent events have seen a sudden and significant rise in the number of people working from home, exacerbating pre-existing issues and making the need for their resolution even more urgent.
“Please be assured that I share your dissatisfaction and I am determined to help bring about a resolution to this situation
“The Government has committed to investing in our national infrastructure, with the delivery of fibre broadband a key comportment of this, and I have had initial conversations with
Ministers and broadband providers regarding these much needed upgrades.
“This is a campaign I will be commencing in a more formal manner over the coming weeks.”
Lancashire County Councillor Liz Oades, who represents Fylde East, has also supported the residents campaign to get fibre-broadband.
She contacted Lancashire Superfast, a £40m project led by the county council that aims to bring improved broadband speeds to businesses and communities across the region.
Unfortunately she received a response that there are no plans to upgrade the estate to fibre at the moment.
Colin said he and the residents will continue to campaign to get fibre installed at the estate.
He added: “So for the time being we have to choose between work or the children studying which is not a choice people in 2020 should have to make.”
Dozens of residents have blasted Rowland Homes over its decision to install the copper wires and even some homeowners have admitted they are looking to move off the estate due to the ‘terrible ‘internet speeds.
Laura Stubbs said: “We have two children of school age who have been unable to access online schooling fully due to the poor connection. It has caused added, unnecessary stress and upset during what has already been a difficult school year due to the lockdown.
“When we bought our house, part of the sales pitch was that improvements to the broadband was very much in the pipeline. This is not the understanding we have now.
“We have even considered moving because of the worry of not being able to work effectively from home.”
Adam Davis said the download speeds are ‘terrible’ and feels that Rowland Homes mislead him.
He said: “I was told on purchasing the house that fibre will be available soon but now I know this was a selling tactic and there is absolutely no truth in it.
“The internet speeds affect me and my family every day due to me and my wife working from home and on occasion even the loading of web pages can be extremely slow and painful.
He added: “This is all then made worse with having two young daughters of which one loves to watch her iPad or stream movies on Netflix which if she is doing it is almost impossible to do anything else on the internet at the same time.”
In short if I had been properly informed regarding the internet speeds and the lack of plans to upgrade or improve I would of seriously not considered purchasing the property and now with
Rowland effectively washing their hands of the problem and not showing any interest or intent to help I don’t see any resolution except for all home owners to find the £61k required to get BT FTTP which is an astronomical fee considering almost all new builds now come with decent internet.” Karl Swan said it has taken him around 12 hours to download a HD episode of a television series.
He said: “We too are absolutely disgusted Rowlands Homes have the greed and brass neck to sell approximately 280 houses for an average of £250k making them millions in profit and yet took the decision to install copper internet cables and not fibre.
“It beggers belief and even now after all the complaints they still shrug off their responsibility.
“In today’s world, not to mention the current situation we all find ourselves in, being able to rely on a stable and suitable internet connection is something hugely important to us as a family and to allow myself and my wife to effectively work from home.
“We have two young children who like all kids are regularly plugged into the internet to stream videos on YouTube. And yet we find ourselves in 2020 on a new housing estate with the ridiculous problem that they can’t even do this at the same time because the speeds are too slow and therefore the fights and stress this causes is a headache to all the family.” Steven
Birtwell said the infrastructure on the estate is “not fitting for current times.”
He said: “Since moving into the estate the internet has continually caused issues. Things that we would perhaps take for granted before like downloading a film on Sky quickly we now need to plan a night or two in advance as it takes that long.”
He added: “Now as the world moves into new times and we, like many others, have been working from home for a number of months the problems are even more clear.
“With even just two of us trying to use the internet whilst working at home we are continually faced with incredibly slow speeds and sometimes finding we are needing to work outside ‘normal’ hours when the speeds and connection seems (marginally) faster and more stable.”