Chalcots: Camden set to ditch contractor a year into project over plans which ‘were not what we asked for’

Taplow tower in the Chalcots Estate. Picture: Polly Hancock

Taplow tower in the Chalcots Estate. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Camden Council is set to ditch the contractor which has been working on controversial fire safety works at the Chalcots Estate in Swiss Cottage for the last year.

Taplow tower on the Chalcots Estate is one of the towers which will have its windows and curtain wal

Taplow tower on the Chalcots Estate is one of the towers which will have its windows and curtain wall replaced. Picture: Harry Taylor - Credit: Harry Taylor

Wates Living Space was approved as lead contractor for the project – required after the cladding on the five tower blocks was removed in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire – in January 2019.

But the town hall is now planning to drop Wates because the plans put forward “weren’t what we asked for”.

The remedial fire safety work came after the estate was evacuated in June 2017 over fire safety fears.

Council leader Georgia Gould (Lab, Kentish Town) said the “best possible standard of safety” remained the highest priority.

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She said: “Despite many discussions, the offer Wates provided to deliver the full programme of works unfortunately was not what we expected or wanted for residents.

“Wates’ designs didn’t meet our requirements and weren’t what we asked for, and the final costs have increased significantly – this is taxpayer’s money and we need to make sure that works are value for money.”

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Simon Happily, who lives in Bray tower on the estate, said the decision came as a shock and added: “It seems they wanted to do things neither Camden nor residents wanted such as having three bars on our kitchen windows. “I am horribly disappointed at there being more delays and more unnecessary noise for example taking the scaffolding down and up again. But if it is as bad as Camden said, this is the only thing they could have done.”

In a joint statement Belsize councillors Luisa Porritt and Tom Simon (both Lib Dem) queried why it had taken more than a year for the lack of the agreement to become clear and called for the council’s discussions with contractors to fall under the scope of the second phase of the inquiry into how the estate has been managed since the 2017 evacuation.

They said: “How can the council have let it come to this, that Chalcots residents, who have already endured so much, face yet another lengthy delay and more disruption?”

A Wates Living Space spokesperson said: “Due to ongoing contractual commitments with the Council it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time.”

The decision will be considered by the council’s cabinet on May 13.

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