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Chalcots Estate: More disruption as every single window on tower blocks needs replacing

PUBLISHED: 18:36 12 March 2018 | UPDATED: 11:11 01 June 2018

The Chalcots Estate is currently undergoing work to remove its cladding. Picture: EMILY BANKS

The Chalcots Estate is currently undergoing work to remove its cladding. Picture: EMILY BANKS

Archant

Every window on all five tower blocks on the Chalcots Estate in Camden needs to be replaced as part of urgent safety works.

Residents evacuating the Chalcots estate last June Residents evacuating the Chalcots estate last June

In addition the metal curtain walling on the outside of the towers,which fixes the windows and insulation panels in place also needs to be repaired or replaced after a ‘number of issues’ were identified.

These structural faults were uncovered when the cladding on the tower blocks - found to be highly flammable in the wake of the Grenfell tower fire - was removed.

They come as several windows have recently fallen out in several flats in the tower blocks.

These urgent recommendations are being rushed before Camden council’s cabinet on March 21 for approval.

Evacuation and subsequent works has cost £50 million Picture: Anna Behrman Evacuation and subsequent works has cost £50 million Picture: Anna Behrman

Council officers met tenant representatives this morning and in a letter to all residents, council leader Georgia Gould, wrote:

“As part of the removal of the cladding from the Chalcots Estate, we have completed additional surveys to assess the state of the building beneath the panels and insulation.

“We have identified a number of issues with ‘curtain walling’ across all five blocks.

“The condition and quality of the ‘curtain walling’ varies considerably. We are also concerned about the windows following the recent failures in Blashford and Dorney.

“Our first priority is your safety.”

This is the latest fiasco to hit thousands of residents from more than 700 flats in the tower blocks who have faced months of disruption, uncertainty and stress after being suddenly evacuated from their homes last June and forced to sleep in hotels and accommodation over fire safety fears in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire.

The cladding on the outside of the buildings, which was installed by Rydons the same firm that worked on Grenfell was found to be flammable and conditions insde were said to be unsafe by the London Fire Brigade.

Since moving back in residents have been surrounded by builders removing the cladding and improving fire safety measures.

The total cost of the evacuation and subsequent repairs have cost the council £50 million.

Belsize councillor Leila Roy said: “I am worried that residents have been going through disruption for months and things are being decided without talking to them.”

Tom Simon, Liberal Democrat candidate for the Belsize Ward, said: “This would be a further huge intrusion into the lives of Chalcots residents, greater than anything since the evacuation.”

“It would be entirely wrong to proceed with this project without a proper consultation process. We call on the Labour Council to back off. We demand that they show some respect to the people who live on the Chalcots.”

The council said all the works should be completed by summer 2019.

Ms Gould added: “We are committed to a new standard of resident

safety. In order to start the work this summer, we need to take this report to cabinet now to secure the budget for the works. Any delay to making this decision is likely to increase the length of time works continue on the estate.

A council spokesman said under the PfI agreement, repairs and maintenance on the Chalcots are the responsibility of PFIC,

The council has employed building firms Kier, Mulalley and Wates to complete urgent repair works

Ms Gould said: “This is money I know our taxpayers would expect the council to seek to recover given the exceptional circumstances – and that is what we have started to do in accordance with the terms of our agreement. We have withheld payment since November as it is crucial the Council does what it can to protect the public purse and recoup any costs.

A spokesman said the cost of the works was coming from a mix of housing revenue account balances and capital and there would be no impact on frontline services.

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