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Camden Council begins removing cladding from HTA's Chalcots Estate

Hta chalcots projects 52 0 large

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.


Readers' comments (4)

  • Chris Rogers

    And yet on TV just now the same Camden Council leader Georgia Gould dodged a question about the ability of the councils own building inspectors to actually, y'know, inspect.

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  • If the building is ’not to the standard that we had commissioned’ then why was the contractor paid for the work? In relation to Grenfell tower, under design and build it has become endemic in the fitting of aluminium windows, to fix through shims and fill the gap with aerosol expanding foam. Under the building regs it is not clear that these materials should be fire resistant when the expanding foam definitely needs to be!

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  • We live in Bacton Tower NW5. The building was recently refurbished 2014. It was signed off without all of the works being complete so that the "cowboy" builders could move onto the next contract. Fire seals were overlooked in between risers in flats and floors. Eurocompliance claimed the building was a fire risk due to this and yet the council have failed to act as it would mean pulling out the new kitchens fitted. It is not just about exterior cladding, it is the irresponsibility of project and site managers who resent being challenged about their competence. New windows were fitted damaged, some where the contractors did not even bother to fit foam to prevent drafts around the frames. New vinyl flooring that bubbled up within a week and surrounds badly measured that left gaps. Surrounds that have fallen off the wall and been held on with masking tape. Individual flats that had central heating fitted but not working because the thermostat is in the wrong place, on the warm wall that houses the boiler. The front doors fitted that were not secure and broken into because the letter box was too close to the lock and handle. This was denied by the project manager until proven and all had to be fitted to the over expensive new doors. These doors are still fitted throughout the borough so it can be seen why there is such resentment. Health and safety issues ignored, brushing waste materials off wooden boards 20 floors high, instead of bagging it, silicon concrete dust allowed into homes and communal areas that were not sectioned off. The list goes on ....work in flats still not finished and they intend to charge leaseholder £40,000 for shoddy workmanship, all this written off by clerk of works, it is a disgrace. They negate the work by making appointments but not keeping them thus wasting time taken off work and disheartening tenants. All backed up with evidence, so Camden Council, the fire seals when are they to be replaced and the snagging works finished?

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  • For Carl Sanders: your list is surely so damning that - after the North Kensington disaster - if you copy it to your MP and local councillors they'll all be scuttling for cover - and the press and media would surely pick this up and run with it.
    You shouldn't have any difficulty in getting corrective action, especially now that the police have made it clear that life-threatening negligence, incompetence and corruption could lead to conviction for manslaughter.

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