Brixton tower cladding fails test, but evacuation not needed

Park Heights
Park Heights

A building on the former Stockwell Park Estate in Brixton – Park Heights run by Network Homes – has the same form of ACM (aluminium composite material) panel cladding as that used on Grenfell Tower that burnt down with great loss of life.

Network Homes said a panel of the cladding had been sent for government testing and, like all others sent so far, it failed a flammability test. The panels will be replaced, but other safety precautions mean that residents will not be evacuated.

The company said that London Fire Brigade had carried out a full fire safety inspection of the building on Saturday (24 June) and confirmed that, because of its multiple up-to-date fire safety features, the building does not need to be vacated.

Park Heights contains 159 homes and was completed in 2015 when they were offered for sale..

Network Homes said that, as a new purpose-built development, it has “all of the additional safety features expected in a modern high rise block”.

These include “a sprinkler system in every flat, heat and smoke alarms in every flat and strict cavity barriers between each floor and each individual flat. It also has automatic mechanical smoke removal vents. Park Heights has full building control approval.”

Network Homes said its first priority was the safety of residents.

“All residents have been fully notified and we will continue to update them as we finalise our checks and get any additional information.

“The building also has a 24-hour concierge service and we have introduced a 24-hour “walking watch” of additional security staff to patrol constantly while we finalise the actions we need to take.”

A company statement continued: “While the building clearly has up-to-date safety features and is therefore very different to Grenfell Tower, the Network Homes board has determined that the ACM panels will be removed and replaced. We are now working on a full action plan with our contractors and consultants to implement this decision, in consultation with the residents.

Network Homes said it had eight other buildings of 10 stories or above and that they had all been fully checked and that no others had been found to have the ACM cladding with a polyethelene core.

A Lambeth council spokesman said: “While this block is not a Lambeth Council property, we are, of course, working closely with its landlord Network Homes to ensure everything is in place to ensure resident safety.

“The London Fire Brigade have inspected the building and have said the property does not need to be vacated due to its safety features, which include sprinklers.”

Park Heights
Park Heights

The council said that its own medium/high rise residential blocks do not have any cladding of the same form and construction as that reported to have been used at Grenfell Tower.

It said all of its work over the past five years to bring homes up to its Lambeth Housing Standard had used Rockwool cladding that is fundamentally different.

“However,” it went on, “we are carrying out further testing and investigations on all our fully and partially clad blocks to review the exact composition and installation, in line with Department for Communities and Local Government guidance, to ensure its safety. Sampling work should be complete in the next few days.”

A contractor, Rydon, involved in fitting cladding to Grenfell Tower is involved in the running of another “regenerated” Lambeth estate – Myatts Fields North – where safety concerns were raised by tenants during rebuilding.

Rydon refurbished the former Lambeth council estate as part of a 25-year private finance initiative contract that began in May 2012. It also maintains the estate and is responsible for fire risk assessments there.

Park Heights
Park Heights


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