Packington Estate will not collapse just yet
The Packington Estate is not 'teetering on the brink of collapse', as Ed Dorrell states (News, AJ 15.7.04) - nor, as far as I know, are any other large panel system(LPS) blocks in the UK.
However, what investigations by myself and Brian Stocker have shown - and our investigations verify the council's own independent consulting engineer's findings - is that there are very serious structural problems at the Packington Estate.
These problems have been found elsewhere, most notably in the LPS blocks I inspected in Birmingham in 1999. They concern piped gas supplies and illegal use of bottled gas often by people suffering from 'fuel poverty.' A further complication at Packington is the missing 50 per cent of reinforcing bars in the floor slabs. Even though Packington should have been checked following BRE advice in 1987, it is only recently that it has come under scrutiny. The structure fails at a most basic level.
One of the questions we have asked is how many more of these blocks are there like this in the UK, with an illegal gas supply?
Sam Webb, Canterbury