Camden Council has said it will ‘immediately begin preparing’ to remove external cladding from five HTA-refurbished tower blocks on Chalcots Estate, north London
The council said that, while the arrangement of the aluminium composite cladding panels on the tower blocks differed ‘significantly’ from that on Grenfell Tower, it did not satisfy the ‘independent laboratory testing or the high standards we set for contractors’.
It said that results from the BRE laboratory showed the aluminium panels used on the scheme had a polyethylene core and were ’not to the standard that we had commissioned’. The council said it would be informing the contractor that it was taking ‘urgent legal advice’.
According to a report in The Guardian, aluminium panels with a polyethylene core were installed at Grenfell Tower. A number of fire safety experts believe the combustible polyethylene core was a factor behind the fire spreading so quickly at the tower.
Camden Council leader Georgia Gould said: ‘Camden Council has decided it will immediately begin preparing to remove these external cladding panels from the five tower blocks on the Chalcots Estate.
’Camden Council will do whatever it takes to ensure our residents are reassured about the safety of their homes.’
She said that, until all the panels have been removed, the council would be carrying out ‘24/7’ fire-safety patrols in order to reassure residents.
HTA completed its £150 million refurbishment of the 1960s blocks in 2010. As with Grenfell Tower’s refurbishment, Rydon was the contractor for the project, with Harley Facades providing the cladding.
Last week, HTA managing partner Simon Bayliss told the AJ that the practice has set up a ‘technical group’ to internally review all of its buildings, including the cladding, in response to the Grenfell Tower fire.
Gould stressed that Chalcot Estate’s ‘cladding design and insulation significantly differs to that at Grenfell Tower’.
She said: ‘It includes fire-resistant rockwool insulation, designed to prevent the spread of fire, and fire-resistant sealant between floors, designed to stop a high-intensity flat fire from spreading to neighbouring flats.’
Gould added that this arrangment had previously contained a fire in the Taplow block on the estate in 2012.
Camden Council’s announcement comes after Downing Street released a statement this morning, in which it said that English councils estimate that 600 high-rise buildings could have ‘similar cladding’ to that on Grenfell Tower.
As well as the local authority’s estimates, the statement, as reported by the Press Association, added that the government’s own tests had separately found combustible cladding on at least three tower blocks in the UK so far.
Earlier this morning, Theresa May made a statement to the House of Commons on the Grenfell Tower fire, in which she revealed that tests show a ‘number’ of tower blocks across the UK have combustible cladding, as on Grenfell Tower. Downing Street later said it estimated that 600 high-rise blocks had used the cladding.