Material will be removed from five blocks after independent tests
Camden council has said it is to remove cladding panels from five tower blocks in the borough that were similar in design to that used on Grenfell Tower in north Kensington.
In a lengthy statement the council leader, Georgia Gould said it had decided to act after receiving the results from independent testing of the cladding on Chalcots Estate from the laboratory at the Building Research Establishment.
“Following last week’s tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, Camden Council immediately reviewed fire safety at all our high rise blocks. We knew we had set the highest standards but we weren’t prepared to take anything for granted and we were first in the queue to test the cladding on our blocks.
“We have now received the results of independent testing of cladding on Chalcots Estate from the laboratory at the Building Research Establishment.
“The arrangement of the cladding and insulation used on Camden Council’s buildings significantly differs from that on Grenfell Tower. It includes fire-resistant rock wool 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. This arrangement previously contained a fire at a flat in Taplow block in 2012. These are significant and proven arrangements to stop the spread of fire.
“The new results from the laboratory show that the outer cladding panels themselves are made up of aluminium panels with a polyethylene core.
“Therefore the panels that were fitted were not to the standard that we had commissioned. In light of this, we will be informing the contractor that we will be taking urgent legal advice.”
Gould’s statement went on: “Whilst we are clear that our cladding design and insulation significantly differs to that at Grenfell Tower, the external cladding panels did not satisfy our independent laboratory testing or the high standards we set for contractors.
“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.
“Until the panels have all been removed, we will carry out 24/7 fire safety patrols on the estate’s corridors to reassure residents and carry out enhanced fire safety checks. This additional assessment work includes a sweep of corridors to make sure they are clear of obstructions and anything that is potentially flammable. We will also be working with residents to test white goods, assessing fire doors in properties and we will be providing fire safety advice to residents.
“We have set up an information point on Chalcots Estate staffed by our housing teams who will be highly visible to our residents over the coming days. We want any residents who have concerns or questions to come to the information point so we can help them.
“We are working side-by-side with our housing groups and the London Fire Brigade and we remain ready to respond to any changes to national fire safety advice. We stand ready to fully support any national investigation into materials, building standards and safety regulations.
“It’s vital for all of London’s residents who live in high-rise buildings, that we learn from investigations into what caused and exacerbated the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower.”
HTA Architects was the architect on a PFI refurbishment of the Charlcots Estate that started on site in 2006. The main contractor on the works was Rydon and subcontractor Harley Facades carried out the cladding work, according to the company’s websites.
The Charlcots Estate comprises four 23-storey tower blocks and a 19-storey block in the Swiss Cottage area housing 708 homes.