Haringey Council is set to demolish two Ronan Point-style housing blocks on the Broadwater Farm estate due to concerns over their safety
A report, to be considered next week at the first meeting of the council’s recently elected cabinet, outlines how its ‘preferred option’ is to demolish two blocks on the estate in Tottenham, north London, after surveys revealed ’structural issues’.
According to the council, the six-storey ziggurat-style Tangmere and the 18-storey high-rise Northolt have both failed tests and are at risk of ‘progressive collapse’ if a vehicle were to strike the building or a gas explosion were to take place.
It is understood around 200 families will have to be moved out of the estate, which was the scene of rioting in 1985.
Broadwater Farm estate, which features 12 separate blocks, was completed in the early 1970s using the large panel system (LPS) construction method.
The estate was built by Taylor Woodrow-Anglian, the same firm behind the construction of Ronan Point, the east London tower block that partially collapsed in 1968 following a gas explosion, killing four people.
Following the Ronan Point disaster, regulations were introduced which state that LPS systems with a piped gas supply should be able to withstand an explosion.
But more recent checks carried out in the wake of Grenfell have revealed a number of issues with high-rises across the country.
Following investigations by construction consultant Ridge to determine the robustness of the Broadwater Farm buildings, ‘structural issues’ were discovered in 11 of the 12 blocks.
The most serious risks were identified at Tangmere and the 102-flat Northolt block, which the council claimed could ‘not remain occupied long-term as they are in their current structural state’.
But residents in another nine medium-rise blocks which failed the 34 kN/m² test (representing the pressure from a gas explosion) will remain in their homes.
These buildings have instead had their gas cookers replaced by electric ones and been fitted with gas interrupter valves that will switch off the gas if a leak is detected.
Kenley and Northolt towers (yellow, to right) at Broadwater Farm
‘The mitigation measures reduced the risk of an explosion from the piped gas in the buildings, and mean that it is not necessary for residents to be rehoused from these blocks,’ the council said.
Kenley – one of the 18 storey towers that does not have piped gas – passed the 17 kN/m² test and was therefore deemed structurally secure.
A consultation with residents is underway over whether to strengthen the Tangmere and Northolt blocks or demolish them, but the report recommends the immediate evacuation of Tangmere since the block is still connected to the gas supply.
Haringey said that to strengthen the blocks to the required standard would be ’extremely costly’ – estimated at a combined cost of £25 million for both blocks – and would impact on the council’s ability to complete work on its other housing estates.
‘We don‟t like the idea of demolishing homes, and would always want to minimise disruption to an estate which many people have called home for decades,’ its report says. ‘However, we have been elected to deliver on a promise of safe and decent homes for all our tenants.’
Frances Clarke, from campaign group Tower Blocks UK said: ‘It is becoming clear that large panel system tower blocks across the country carry serious structural and fire safety concerns. Tower Blocks UK had requested that the Dame Judith Hackitt Review of Building Regulations recommend an inspection of all LPS blocks and that the government would take responsibility for overseeing and standardising that process.
‘This has not happened and local authorities are faced with tackling these issues themselves.’
Haringey’s cabinet member for housing and estate renewal Emina Ibrahim said: ‘We understand that residents on Broadwater Farm – particularly those in Tangmere and Northolt blocks – will have questions and concerns.
‘We are committed to providing a safe, decent and affordable home for everyone and I want to assure all affected residents that we will carefully consider all of the issues and that any decision we take will be with primary consideration for the safety, aspirations and rights of our tenants.
‘Whatever decision cabinet makes next week, we will ensure that every resident is given the help and support they need.’
Ronan Point in 1968
Source: Derek Voller