New Chalcots Estate procurement plan goes ahead amid criticism over delays and engagement

Bray tower on the Chalcots Estate in Camden before cladding was removed, Picture: PA Archive/David M

Bray tower on the Chalcots Estate in Camden before cladding was removed, Picture: PA Archive/David Mirzoeff - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Camden Council’s housing chief has promised that a new procurement strategy for major works to the Chalcots Estate will see residents have “a central role” in the selection and monitoring of a new contractor.

The latest decision follows Camden’s May rejection of a “best and final offer” from contractor Wates for the works to the estate. The town hall said Wates’ plans did not meet its design requirements or represent value for money.

At a briefing from housing chief Cllr Meric Apak on November 11, Conservative ward rep Cllr Steve Adams argued that the report recommending a re-procurement exercise for the work on the Chalcots estate, which had to be evacuated over fire safety fears in 2017, should have begun with an apology for the delays.

Cllr Adams said the situation felt like deja vu and added: “There is an overriding feeling that we should be further down the route of design and routes of access after two and a half years than we are now. It concerns me that we are not.”

Cllr Adams’s concerns over engagement were echoed by Burnham Residents’ Association rep Hasan Shah, who called on the housing boss to pause the procurement process for it to be “thought out properly to avoid major mistakes once again”. Mr Shah said that residents had not been properly consulted.

Council officers present at the meeting insisted that consultations had been carried out, including webinars hosting 170 attendees.

There are said to be seven to nine contractors particularly keen to take on the work.

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The five blocks in Swiss Cottage were dramatically evacuated in June 2017 amid concerns for residents’ safety.

Previously installed cladding on the Chalcots estate has now been removed, with internal fire stopping completed in individual flats and communal areas.

The major works will see a new external building “envelope” given to the 717 homes across the five tower blocks, including replacement windows, new cladding, a new roof and new brickwork.

Cllr Apak said: “It is of particular importance to me, and I am sure to the residents, that timelines are improved upon.

He said disruption to residents’ lives must be kept to a minimum and added: “I am encouraged by proposals to engage our residents throughout this process. I particularly look forward to residents playing a central role. I know this is a cliche, but I say it with hand on heart, a central role in the selection of the contractor and then monitoring that contractor.”

Cllr Apak said he was convinced the town hall has listened to the concerns of those on the estate, and added: “The last thing we need here is more delays.”