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Race against time to rescue ‘girl trapped inside’ house reduced to rubble in massive gas explosion

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Emergency services are searching for a four-year-old girl believed to be trapped after a terraced house collapsed following a huge gas explosion and fire in south London this morning.

Neighbours said it sounded ‘like a bomb had gone off’ on Galpin’s Road in Thornton Heath, near Croydon, just after 7am this morning, as 40 firefighters and six fire engines quickly rushed to the scene.

Three people have been hospitalised with potentially life-threatening injuries and the fire brigade confirmed their urban search and rescue crews are searching for one more missing person.

Merton Council has declared a major incident and confirmed it was a gas explosion.

Utility repair and maintenance works were being carried out on the road by Southern Gas Networks, who have been contacted by Mail Online for a comment.

Two neighbours, Kutoya Kukanda, 50, and Delroy Simms, 62, who have been called have been called ‘heroes’ for rescuing three children from the rubble at around 7am, said they feared a young girl was still trapped inside.

Mr Simms, dressed in his pyjamas by the cordon, said the explosion was like an earthquake and knew what it was because ‘that gas was smelling all week, really strong’.

He said that Mr Kukanda passed children out to him as bricks were still falling from the structure.

Videos and pictures shows the house completely reduced to rubble, planks of wood strewn about, and neighbours standing shocked outside in their dressing gowns.

Surrounding properties and vehicles are seriously damaged with tiles and bricks from the destroyed housing laying on top of them.

Around 40 properties have been evacuated as a precaution and a 50-metre cordon is in place. 

One man was treated for burn injuries at the scene and witnesses said other people including a child were stretchered away, Thornton Heath Chronicle reported.

A young girl was also seen stood outside with a blanket being treated for burns, as three people are currently in hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) said four people have been rescued and are asking people to avoid the area.

The fire brigade are searching for one missing person after a house collapsed following a huge explosion this morning in Croydon, south London

The fire brigade are searching for one missing person after a house collapsed following a huge explosion this morning in Croydon, south London

The blast tore a huge hole in the wall of a neighbouring home, causing serious damage to what appears to be a child's bedroom

The blast tore a huge hole in the wall of a neighbouring home, causing serious damage to what appears to be a child’s bedroom

Following a fire and explosion, approximately 40 firefighters rushed to the scene of a house collapse in Thornton Heath

Following a fire and explosion, approximately 40 firefighters rushed to the scene of a house collapse in Thornton Heath

Residents thought a 'bomb had gone off' when the blast happened around 7am this morning

Residents thought a ‘bomb had gone off’ when the blast happened around 7am this morning

Neighbours on the road believe a girl aged around four or five is still trapped inside (pictured: Urban Search and Rescue team at the scene in Galpin's Road)

Neighbours on the road believe a girl aged around four or five is still trapped inside (pictured: Urban Search and Rescue team at the scene in Galpin’s Road)

Deputy Assistant Commissioner of London Fire Brigade confirmed one person was missing and being searched for

Deputy Assistant Commissioner of London Fire Brigade confirmed one person was missing and being searched for

Emergency services remain at the scene of the completely destroyed house in Croydon, so far London Fire Brigade say four people have been rescued

Emergency services remain at the scene of the completely destroyed house in Croydon, so far London Fire Brigade say four people have been rescued

The house was destroyed in the huge explosion which is believed to have been caused by a gas leak

The house was destroyed in the huge explosion which is believed to have been caused by a gas leak

The house explosion took place in Thornton Heath, Croydon around 7am this morning

The house explosion took place in Thornton Heath, Croydon around 7am this morning

Emergency services at the scene in Galpin's Road in Thornton Heath, south London, with the collapsed house in the background

Emergency services at the scene in Galpin’s Road in Thornton Heath, south London, with the collapsed house in the background

On the road where properties sell for around £430,000, the explosion launched a mass of rubble which seriously damaged houses either side of the blast and across the road.

Neighbours said they had reported a strong gas smell two weeks ago and others said they had been feeling dizzy and sick over the last two days.

One person said they were still able to smell gas after the blast which shattered windows and severely damaged neighbouring properties as other houses in the area were also evacuated.

Residents on the street told The Sun gasworks had been taking place for ‘four weeks’ there is no suggestion the works have any link to the blast at this stage.

A mother was crying in the street for her son as his bedroom was opposite the completely destroyed house, said one local.

The 25-year-old woman told MyLondon: ‘His mum was out on the street crying ‘My boy, my boy’.

‘They took him to hospital and we’ve heard since that he’s ok.’

She added that a ‘little girl’ and her dad escaped the destroyed house, and that the mum was rescued afterwards.

One resident, who lives on nearby Carisbrooke Road, said: ‘I heard the explosion at 7am, it was just the biggest bang you’ll ever hear.

‘So I went down the road to see what happened this morning and the whole house is gone, people living nearby said all their windows shook.

‘There was police, fire engines, a helicopter going around overhead. There’s not actually a fire from what I saw but you can still really smell gas, even two roads away where I am. They’re evacuating people from the houses nearby as they’re worried about another explosion.

‘There was a little girl of about 10 or 11 stood outside with a blanket bless her, god knows how she got out of that but she’s being treated for burns.

‘They were saying her older brother was still inside but he later got taken out OK I think.’

Dominic Francis, 41, and his partner heard a loud bang this morning, he said: ‘It is the third or fourth house explosion in the UK recently.

‘Something is wrong, I am worried it will happen to us.’

One Facebook user said: ‘I heard it whilst getting ready for work and thought it sounded like an explosion but was hoping I was wrong and that it was at a building site or something.’

Another added: ‘That was one loud bang thought a bomb had gone off’.

The house, pictured several years before the blast, was completely destroyed with neighbouring properties also badly damaged sparking the evacuation of 40 people

The house, pictured several years before the blast, was completely destroyed with neighbouring properties also badly damaged sparking the evacuation of 40 people

London Fire Brigade say four people have been rescued from the scene (pictured)

London Fire Brigade say four people have been rescued from the scene (pictured)

Around forty firefighters attended the scene and the surrounding area was evacuated after the explosion

Around forty firefighters attended the scene and the surrounding area was evacuated after the explosion

Nearby properties on Galpin's Road (pictured) have been damaged and four people have been rescued

Nearby properties on Galpin’s Road (pictured) have been damaged and four people have been rescued 

Police have evacuated and cordoned off the surrounding area following the explosion

Police have evacuated and cordoned off the surrounding area following the explosion

At this time, the cause of the fire and explosion is unknown, but a nearby resident said they could smell gas

At this time, the cause of the fire and explosion is unknown, but a nearby resident said they could smell gas

A London Ambulance Service spokesperson said: ‘We have treated four patients at an incident in Galpins Road, Thornton heath. One was discharged on scene and three others were taken to hospital.

‘We remain on scene with our emergency service colleagues.’ 

Merton council said in a statement: ‘We are working with London Fire Brigade and the Metropolitan Police following a major incident at Galpins Road in Pollards Hill.

‘Emergency services are on site following a gas explosion at a residential property, at least one property has been destroyed. We are urging people to avoid the area.

‘Firefighters are currently carrying out systematic searches and working to make the scene safe.

‘An evacuation centre has been established at the New Horizons Centre.’

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said in a statement: ‘Six fire engines and around 40 firefighters have been called to a fire and explosion on Galpin’s Road in Thornton Heath.

‘A terraced house has collapsed following an explosion.

‘The Brigade’s 999 Control Officers have taken 13 calls to the incident.

‘The Brigade was called at 0708. Fire crews from Norbury, Mitcham, West Norwood, Woodside and surrounding fire stations attended the scene.

‘The cause of the fire and explosion is not known at this time.’

The Metropolitan Police confirmed officers are at the scene. A statement on Twitter said: ‘Officers are at the scene in Galpin’s Road as part of the emergency services response to this incident. Please follow @LondonFire for updates.’

London Ambulance Service said it is also responding to the incident.

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Barings provides €72m loan for social housing portfolio (GB)

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Barings has provided a €71.9m (£62.9m), 15-year loan to finance the acquisition of a social housing portfolio in England by Domus Social Housing Ltd (Domus). Provided under its separate account with investor Phoenix Group, the UK’s largest long-term savings and retirement business, it is Barings’ first real estate debt exposure to affordable housing in Europe. 

 

Domus and Fiera Infrastructure Inc, were advised by Excellion Capital on the milestone transaction in which Domus acquired the portfolio, consisting of 54 properties in London, the midlands and the northwest of England with more than 850 beds in the underlying units. The assets are let to UK housing providers that specialise in managing homes for residents with a range of needs, including those experiencing homelessness and domestic abuse. There are over 320,000 people estimated to be sleeping rough, in homeless shelters or in other temporary housing in the UK, according to analysis from Shelter in 2018.

 

Chris Bates, Head of Europe Real Estate Debt Origination at Barings, said: “Having been actively lending against UK and European residential property for some time now, we were keen to explore opportunities in the affordable housing sector and believe this portfolio is a substantially attractive one to launch us into the market. We are increasingly seeking out opportunities to invest in residential property, given that it provides a long-duration, reliable income that hedges against rising inflation, and are interested in a range of asset classes such as affordable housing, student accommodation, build-to-rent and the private rental sector.”

 

Sam Mellor, Managing Director and Head of Europe & Asia – Pacific Real Estate Debt at Barings, said: “Increasing our exposure in affordable housing is the right thing to do from both a social impact and a financial investment perspective, reflecting both Barings’ values as a company and our investors’ priorities. With a housing crisis in the UK, as across much of the world, the social case is crystal clear. Barings has significant expertise and experience in the affordable housing sector in the U.S., upon which we’ve drawn for this investment, and we’re eager to continue to combine our global research capabilities with our on-the-ground knowledge to seek to secure returns for our investors.”

 

Prabjot Mann, Head of Property at Phoenix Group, said: “Phoenix is delighted to have provided €71.9m (£62.9m) for Barings’ first loan supporting affordable housing projects in Europe. Phoenix Group is committed to investments that have a clear social benefit and this loan forms part of our growing portfolio of investments in affordable, supported and social housing. This funding will provide housing to those most in need, and is fully aligned with our approach to responsible investment.”

 

Alina Osorio, President of Fiera Infrastructure, said: “Domus is a new social infrastructure platform focused on providing critical shelter and support to the most vulnerable members of the community. The investment addresses the social housing supply imbalance in the UK by providing quality accommodations in the areas most at need. We plan to grow our footprint through additional acquisitions, which have been identified and secured in areas experiencing housing supply shortages. We are pleased to have worked with Barings on this milestone financing and look forward to witnessing its significant and measurable social impact on the individuals and communities in which Domus operates.”

 

Gareth Taylor, Director at Excellion Capital, said: “We are delighted to support Domus Social Housing with its acquisition by working with Barings to provide funding of socially responsible and much needed supported housing across the UK. These properties give the unhoused and most vulnerable individuals in our society the accommodation and the specialist care they require.”

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How to sell your home in 2023: Ten top tips

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Energy price worries, double-digit inflation, strikes, war and a new government — there’s a lot going on right now, and it’s all beginning to sap the confidence of sellers and buyers.

The market is still robust, with Halifax this month reporting that house prices are 11.5 per cent higher than a year ago, and the typical home now costs a record £294,260. 

But some potential sellers aren’t convinced and believe it’s better to wait until spring to see if buyer confidence returns.

Holding off: The housing market remains robust, but some potential sellers aren't convinced, and believe it's better to wait until spring to see if buyer confidence returns

Holding off: The housing market remains robust, but some potential sellers aren’t convinced, and believe it’s better to wait until spring to see if buyer confidence returns

Of course, the cuts to stamp duty that Prime Minister Liz Truss and Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng have announced may change a few minds.

But research by savings website VoucherCodes suggests that rising costs have forced 11 per cent of all potential buyers to delay by at least a year.

And a separate study by Nationwide Building Society says seven in ten would-be first-time buyers are putting their plans on ice for some months at least.

So if you’re looking to sell and prevent your home from languishing on the market for months on end, it may be best to spend the next six months getting into pole position for the market in 2023. 

Here are our ten top tips…

1. Take top-quality photos

Choose your estate agent now and make sure they take photographs of your home as soon as possible, while the weather is still relatively good. 

Then it will look its best regardless of when you decide to list it — and you can choose to start marketing at short notice if the conditions are right.

2. Help your buyer

‘Create a pack including everything you can to reassure buyers and cut delays,’ says Clare Coode, an agent with Stacks Property Search, a buying agency.

‘This should include, for example, a certificate for your wood burner, up-to-date electrical certificates, planning permissions, building regulation sign-offs, information about ownership of boundary walls and documents related to access and rights of way.’

3. Fix a mortgage deal

With interest rates rising, and likely to increase for another 18 months according to commentators, securing a competitive multi-year, fixed-rate mortgage in principle now makes sense. 

But many of these deals have to be acted upon within a few months, so ensure you’re in a position to buy before the deadline expires.

4. Boost energy efficiency

This is a key issue for buyers, even after Liz Truss introduced a financial package to ease the burden of increased energy costs.

‘Double glazing, improved insulation or a new boiler could be achieved in a few months, and would likely boost both the appeal and asking price of your home,’ says Location, Location, Location star Phil Spencer. 

‘There are also solar panels, but these won’t add enough value to recover their cost in the short term.’

5. Update the kitchen

Consumer group the HomeOwners Alliance says the kitchen is worth more per square foot than any other room in the house, so it’s worth making it look tip-top.

Spend autumn and winter refacing the cabinets and smartening up the walls and floor. 

But don’t fit a new kitchen — you won’t recover the cost if you sell soon and an installation hitch could derail plans.

6. Be competitive

Try not to pay too much attention to any one house price index, but look at the overall trend and be prepared to set a competitive asking price in the New Year.

Many estate agents say an asking price at the lower end of your expectations will encourage rival buyers to bid against each other — good news for any seller. 

And an overly ambitious price may see the home stuck on the market, especially during a cost of living crisis.

7. Try a neutral restyle

Declutter, of course — but do more than that. ‘If your interior is looking a little dated in style, then redecorate in line with current trends,’ says Alex Lyle, director of estate agency Antony Roberts, based in West London.

‘But try not to be too ‘out there’ as this may put off some potential buyers. Likewise, if carpets are looking a little tired, think about replacing them or switching to wooden flooring.’

8. Spruce up the garden

‘Assess how badly the garden suffered from the drought,’ says Josephine Ashby of John Bray Estates, an estate agent based in North Cornwall.

‘Something planted in the autumn should be thriving by spring. Outside space is important, so doing anything to spruce it up will be rewarded. 

Fresh gravel, a trellis to hide eyesores, dramatic pots and cleaned-up furniture with pretty cushions are all easy fixes.’

9. Remember the lights

‘Swap old halogen lights for LED fittings,’ says Emma Barkes of Stacks Property Search. ‘These use 80 per cent less energy to produce the same amount of light.

‘Make the change early so you can demonstrate lower winter bills and also to give you time to paint the ceilings, as the fittings will almost certainly be a different size.’

10. Finish old projects 

There’s no excuse for outstanding repairs if you have six months to deal with them, but remember that it can take longer than you think to get a tradesman in.

Maintenance firm HelpmeFix says it typically takes four weeks to get a bricklayer or roofer, and at least a week to get a plumber to do a routine boiler check.

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CBRE IM acquires two logistics assets in Madrid (ES)

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CBRE Investment Management has acquired two new logistics assets in Madrid, Spain, owned by DWS, with a total gross lettable area of 67,859m².

 

The first asset, located in Meco, was completed in Q2 2020 and offers 51,969m² of gross lettable space with a LEED Silver rating. The second, in Torrejon, was completed in Q4 2019 and provides 15,890m² of gross lettable space with a LEED Gold rating. Both properties are already leased under triple net leases to leading tenants including a German automotive component manufacturer, a national kitchen equipment distributor and an international sustainable energy company. They both also have EPC ratings of A.

 

Both assets boast excellent locations with easy access to the A-2 and R-2 highways, and good connection with the M-50, Madrid’s outermost ring road. A driving distance of just 30 minutes to Madrid’s city centre means the assets are well positioned to accommodate, amongst others, tenants with a last-mile approach. The assets have been delivered to high technical and environmental specifications, and also benefit from the increased penetration of e-commerce in Spain and the lack of grade A logistics properties in the area.

 

Antonio Roncero, Head of Transactions for Iberia at CBRE Investment Management, said: “This acquisition was a rare opportunity to secure an income-producing grade A logistics portfolio through an off-market process. The Madrid logistics sector is attractive due to the potential growth of occupier demand versus an acute shortage of supply. Despite current economic headwinds, well located, high-quality and sustainable assets such as these are well placed to take advantage of ongoing rental growth in the logistics sector.”

 

Manuel Ibanez, Head of Real Estate Iberia at DWS, pointed out: “In 2017 at DWS we bet on the logistics sector and structured a forward purchase agreement with ICC, which culminated in the purchase of the two newly developed warehouses in 2019 and 2020. Following the leasing of both assets, we decided to divest, closing the circle of this deal, which will be profitable for our investors and is part of DWS’s value add strategy. We will continue working to find investment opportunities in key locations and strategic sectors such as logistics, residential and offices, strengthening our presence in Spain”.

 

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