CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Chalcots estate: removal of cladding to start next week and take ‘several months’

Council act before government guidance, saying: "It would be wrong to wait any longer"

31 August, 2017 — By William McLennan

WORK to remove flammable cladding from the Chalcots estate will begin next week, Camden Council have said.

The panels covering the five tower blocks in Adelaide Road were found to be unsafe at the end of June, but the Town Hall has so far delayed removal works while the government carried out further tests.

Council leader Georgia Gould today (Thursday) said they were going to press on before the government issued guidance on what materials should be used to replace it, adding: “We await this advice but we have decided that it would be wrong to wait any longer to remove the cladding.”

Both the aluminium panelling, which has a flammable plastic core, and the fire-retardant insulation that sits behind it will be removed, but there are no answers yet on exactly what will replace it.

The discovery of flammable cladding led the fire brigade to carry out thorough safety checks on June 23 and concerns over what they found led four of the blocks to be evacuated for a month while urgent internal works took place.

Panels will be removed from the lower two floors of Blashford and Burnham next week and council-appointed architects will design the best method to remove and replace all the cladding, which will begin “from the end of September,” the council said.

They said it will take “several months” to complete and “24/7 fire warden cover” will remain in place until then.

The design team will be lead by Neil Davies Architects and Eckersley O’Callaghan Façade Engineers, with consultation from accredited fire engineers and planning consultants.
No decision has been made on what will replace the cladding and the council has pledged to consultation residents at every stage.

It is understood that rising platforms, known as “mast climbers”, are likely to be used to remove the cladding.

All options are currently being considered for what could replace the flammable cladding and it may see the building’s surface covered in a rendering, rather than metal panels.

Cllr Gould said: “Residents have made it clear to me that they don’t want this material on their building and we’re determined to move fast and take it off. The work starts next week.

“It is important that we know what options are open to us once cladding is removed so, to move things along quickly, we have appointed our own specialist design team to come up with the right solution for the Chalcots. Residents will be engaged at every stage as the work progresses.

“The Government have carried out full cladding system combustibility tests but they are not yet in a position to provide any guidance on what new materials or products to use. We await this advice but we have decided that it would be wrong to wait any longer to remove the cladding.

“The safety of our residents is our absolute priority and we’ll do all we can to get this job done as quickly and safely as possible.”

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