Camden forced to remove cladding from Chalcots tower blocks after it failed Grenfell safety test
PUBLISHED: 13:26 22 June 2017 | UPDATED: 13:45 22 June 2017
After receiving the results of independent fire safety tests, commissioned after the tragedy at Grenfell towers, Camden is being forced to remove all their cladding from five tower blocks on the Chalcots Estate in Swiss Cottage.
The council has confirmed that the cladding is aluminium composite material panels which have a polyethylene core which bears similarities to that used in Grenfell Tower - believed to have allowed the blaze to spread, although this is still under investigation.
At least 79 people were killed or are missing presumed dead after the blaze at Grenfell on Wednesday last week.
Since then more the 700 residents of the Chalcots tower blocks have been waiting anxiously for the test results after it was revealed that firms Rydon and sub contractor Harley Estates who had carried out the work at Grenfell had also refurbished the Camden estate.
Officers held an emergency meeting this morning as the test results came in.
Until the cladding is removed round the clock fire safety patrols will be carried out at the tower blocks.
Councillor Georgia Gould, Leader of Camden Council, said: “Following last week’s tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, Camden Council immediately reviewed fire safety at all our high rise blocks. We knew we had set the highest standards but we weren’t prepared to take anything for granted and we were first in the queue to test the cladding on our blocks.
“We have now received the results of independent testing of cladding on Chalcots Estate from the laboratory at the Building Research Establishment.
“The new results from the laboratory show that the outer cladding panels themselves are made up of aluminium panels with a polyethylene core.
“Therefore the panels that were fitted were not to the standard that we had commissioned.
“In light of this, we will be informing the contractor that we will be taking urgent legal advice.”
“Whilst we are clear that our cladding design and insulation significantly differs to that at Grenfell Tower, the external cladding panels did not satisfy our independent laboratory testing or the high standards we set for contractors.
“Camden Council has decided it will immediately begin preparing to remove these external cladding panels from the five tower blocks on the Chalcots Estate. Camden Council will do whatever it takes to ensure our residents are reassured about the safety of their homes.
“Until the panels have all been removed, we will carry out 24/7 fire safety patrols on the estate’s corridors to reassure residents and carry out enhanced fire safety checks. This additional assessment work includes a sweep of corridors to make sure they are clear of obstructions and anything that is potentially flammable. We will also be working with residents to test white goods (PAT testing), assessing fire doors in properties and we will be providing fire safety advice to residents.
“We have set up an information point on Chalcots Estate staffed by our housing teams who will be highly visible to our residents over the coming days. We want any residents who have concerns or questions to come to the information point so we can help them.
“We are working side-by-side with our housing groups and the London Fire Brigade and we remain ready to respond to any changes to national fire safety advice. We stand ready to fully support any national investigation into materials, building standards and safety regulations.
“It’s vital for all of London’s residents who live in high-rise buildings, that we learn from investigations into what caused and exacerbated the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower.”
Tulip Siddiq, MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, is currently in a meeting with Camden Council to discuss what urgent emergency measures the council must take.
Ms Siddiq said: “The safety of constituents is my number one priority, and I have been in constant contact with the leader of Camden Council to make sure they are doing all they can to protect those who may be worried for their safety.”