Flammable cladding to be removed from four East London blocks

Woodberry Down Estate Pic: David Holt

Flammable cladding similar to that used on Grenfell Tower will be removed from a block at the Woodberry Down Estate, it has been confirmed.

Hackney Council says the panels have been used in an “entirely different way” to the north Kensington tower and were implemented for aesthetic reasons.

Mayor Phil Glanville said in a statement on Monday that the cladding did not “compromise the safety of the building” but would be removed anyway amid growing concern about fire safety regulations after the Grenfell Tower fire killed at least 79 people.

Glanville said: “We have been assured that the cladding is used in an entirely different way to that at Grenfell Tower; it is purely decorative, on a new-build block, and does not compromise the safety of the building.”

The block is the only building on the estate where this type of cladding was found. Housing developer Berkeley Homes and Genesis Housing Association hand-delivered letters to tenants and leaseholders on Friday and promised to keep residents fully informed of any further actions.

The council has assured there is no immediate safety risk to tenants but will remove the cladding immediately as a precaution. A fire safety officer will be on duty 24/7 until the removal is complete.

Following the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower, all social housing providers in Hackney were asked to investigate the cladding used on their properties. None of the council’s 181 high-rise blocks have the type of cladding in question, however safety checks are ongoing to reassure the public.

Last week Tower Hamlets Council found that cladding on Denning Point tower block “did not fully comply with the requirements” of the safety tests. After an inspection by the London Fire Brigade, a 24-hour fire patrol service has been implemented at Denning Point to inspect communal areas through the night.

According to a joint statement from the council and the block’s developer, Eastend Homes: “All measures recommended by the Fire Brigade are in place and in addition EastendHomes has immediately introduced further measures to meet DCLG recommendations and ensure the continued safety of residents.”

Two tower blocks on Hatfield Close in New Cross will also have cladding removed following failed safety checks. Lewisham Council and Lewisham Homes ordered the removal based on advice from London Fire Brigade but assured an evacuation was unnecessary and the removal will be done with “the minimum of inconvenience to residents.”

Mayor of Lewisham Steve Bullock said in a statment: “Following the results of government fire safety tests, we have ordered the removal of external cladding from two buildings in New Cross. I am satisfied, on the advice of Lewisham Homes and London Fire Brigade, that there is no need to evacuate any buildings.  Safety is our top priority and we are considering extending Lewisham Home’s sprinkler programme to include our tower blocks, guided by advice from the London Fire Brigade.”

A 24-hour fire warden will be on site at the properties this week among other additional fire safety measures.

US firm Arconic, which supplied the cladding panels at Grenfell Tower, said in a statement on Monday that it would discontinue sales due to “issues that have arisen in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy regarding code compliance of cladding systems in the context of buildings’ overall designs.”

The statement said, “Arconic is discontinuing global sales of Reynobond PE for use in high-rise applications.”

The government has confirmed that 75 high-rise buildings in 26 local authority areas have failed fire safety checks.

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