Up to 800 homes in four tower blocks on the Chalcots Estate in Camden, North London are to evacuate after an inspection in the wake of the Grenfell fire found the buildings were unsafe, the leader of Camden council Georgia Gould said on Friday, June 23.
On June 24, Gould said 4,000 people would be displaced from 650 properties on the estate, Sky News reported.
Earlier Grasswire reported that five tower blocks would be evacuated. The estate has five towers – four 22-storey blocks and one 18-storey block. The smaller block, Blashford Tower, is not being evacuated.
Temporary accommodation is being sought for residents and although evacuation was not mandatory at the time, Camden Council is now trying to remove around 40 families who refused to evacuate before work starts to remove the outside cladding and additional works inside the building.
The council initially said that it would evacuate one tower containing 161 households, but within an hour it was decided that the whole estate should be evacuated. Gould said the fire service told the council they “could not guarantee our residents’ safety in those blocks”.
The UK government has asked all councils to inspect cladding on all residential tower blocks after initial investigations pointed to the cladding of the Grenfell Tower as likely responsible for the spread of the fire which killed at least 79 people.
The Department for Communities and Local Government said 14 high-rise residential buildings have so far been identified as using cladding that raises safety concerns.
Rydon Construction – the same firm refurbished Grenfell Tower – refurbished the Chalcots Estate in May 2006. The council paid £66m for the renovation work.
Gould said: “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.”
There are also concerns over gas pipe insulation and fire doors, the BBC reported.
Currently, residents are being housed in temporary accommodation that including local hotels, and a local community center in Swiss Cottage, North London. There are reports that people with pets have been refused temporary housing in local hotels due to pet policy.
One resident said to Camden Council leader Georgia Gould, “I’ve sat in a chair over here since 9 p.m. last night, I’m 72 years old. I suffer from emphysema. Now, I’m being told they can’t rehouse me because I’ve got a dog.”
“What do they want me to do with my dog? Put my dog to sleep?”
“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 residents are reassured about the safety of their homes.
“Until the panels have all been removed, Camden Council will carry out fire safety check 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 (PAT testing), 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.”
Georgia Gould, leader of Camden council
Watch Live Developments via Sky News