Chalcots residents: 'We have been victims of life-changing events'

The Chalcots Estate tower blocks in Camden, north London

The Chalcots Estate tower blocks - Credit: PA

As residents and representatives of the Chalcots Estate we have been the victims of a combination of life-changing events caused by past PFIC (Partners for Improvement in Camden) building improvement errors by Camden, over which we had no say.

Grenfell happened and, within a few weeks, after extended checks the fire brigade told Camden that they could not guarantee the safety of 3,500 residents, resulting in a six week evacuation – people, wearing night clothes evacuated in the middle of the night to Swiss Cottage sports centre sleeping on the floor on air beds, for the fortunate, hotels, many suffering PTSD as a result, and leading to several early deaths.

Camden were directly responsible for all gas, water and electricity work in communal areas, and it was all of this Camden project managed work, together with inadequate fire doors, that forced LFB to recommend evacuation. The appointment of Wates was meant to replace the cladding quickly, but because of exaggerated costs as a result of many design changes, Camden was forced to cancel the contract adding cost and another two years delay. 

Unchecked project creep extended to demolishing windowsill walls, lowering windows to floor and radiators, recommending new inward opening design with “tilt and turn” features, known to have increased maintenance and replacement requirements. Large heavy windows will open 90 degrees into rooms presenting head and eye hazards to residents. 

Creating additional requirements to relocate and change radiators, a new theme “this month” of considering fan assisted radiator windowsill units, with dubious estimates of providing adequate heating, removal of all our existing curtains and blinds and total disruption to every room of each apartment requiring weeks of disruption for every window replacement, whilst families live and work for years of disruption.

We asked Camden many times for a new version of the existing outward opening windows that gives more ventilation. No alternative can be considered. Even Camden’s experts Frankhams and a BRE report were very sceptical of the risks of their current proposals.

Like Grenfell residents voices are not listened to.

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We are all tired and stressed and want our lives back without so much devastating change.

Angie Duncan, Taplow, resident
Stephen Lawson, vice chair, Bray TRA
Shaied Meah, Burnham, resident
Brian Morrey, Burnham, resident
Sajid Muhammad, Bray, resident
Olivia Patterson. Bray, resident
Anthony Royle, ex chair, Bray TRA
Nigel Rumble, Bray TRA and DMC representative
Mandy Ryan, Sec Dorney TRA representative
Hasan Shah, chair Burnham TRA and DMC representative
Myriam Tarpey, Bray, resident