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Flagship offices admit exposure as concrete cancer fears spread

Buildings in Bristol by Fitzroy Robinson and Stride Treglown have been revealed as the tip of the iceberg, as the scourge of concrete cancer creeps across south-west England.

Developers behind two of the city's flagship office buildings have confirmed that they have used faulty cement, and suggest sub-standard materials may have been used in buildings across the entire south-west region.

Developers Crest Nicholson and Rokeagle have launched emergency investigations after discovering they had used cement containing a dangerously high level of alkali, which can lead to cracking, in the new Clerical Medical headquarters building and the 3 Temple Quay office block respectively.

The cement was supplied by Lafarge's plant in Westbury, Wiltshire. The plant is at the centre of an inquiry, after the company admitted making one million tonnes of cement that contained too much alkali (AJ 20.1.05). Any buildings constructed using the material could develop alkali silica reaction within the next two years.

A spokesman for Crest Nicholson said: 'It's the only one of our buildings that is affected, but it must have been used in just about every development in the south-west.

'Crest Nicholson acted earlier on this year when news reached us of problems of high alkali levels in some cement from Lafarge's factory in Wiltshire.

'An audit of deliveries to Harbourside has been carried out. We have identified that some of the cement was included in a ready-mixed delivery used on Building 12 - the new offices for HBOS Financial Services. No other building is affected.

'Concrete specialists and experts have been called in and are currently advising us, builders Kier and HBOS on the situation,' he added.

A Rokeagle spokesman said: 'All parties involved in the development of 3 Temple Quay are fully aware of the issues surrounding the cement produced by Lafarge's Westbury plant between 2002 and 2004, and that it was supplied to a large number of sites in the south-west.'

Roger Goodliff, a director at Bristol practice Acanthus Ferguson Mann said: 'Most of the local contractors must have used this batch, as Lafarge is a major supplier in the region. But it's not been used in any of our projects, as far as I know.'

Fitzroy Robinson and Stride Treglown refused to comment.

by Rob Sharp

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