MP's fury at four-year delay removing Grenfell-type cladding from block
- Credit: Harry Scoffin
The government has joined an MP in telling a developer that "owners should make buildings safe” amid criticism that it waited four years after the Grenfell disaster to remove dangerous cladding from east London's New Providence Wharf tower block.
Poplar and Limehouse MP Apsana Begum wrote to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick on Monday (May 10) about the ACM cladding "and other major fire safety defects” which are only now being removed.
But the minister already had a meeting on Saturday with the developers, Ballymore, the day after Providence Wharf had its third fire in eight years, and warned it about the delays over removing the cladding.
A spokesman at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government released a statement to the East London Advertiser: “The Housing Secretary met with Ballymore on Saturday and expressed his deep disappointment at the delays caused thus far by Ballymore. We understand that remediation work has now started.”
The government had already made £8m of taxpayers’ money available to fund the remediation work.
The spokesman added: "Mr Jenrick made it clear that he expected Ballymore to protect leaseholders from the costs of making their homes safe."
This follows a blaze at Ballymore’s 19-storey Thames waterfront development at Blackwall that broke out on the eighth floor on Friday, May 7, and spread rapidly to the ninth and 10th floors.
Two people were taken to hospital and 40 others were treated at the scene where 25 fire engines were brought in.
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Similar outbreaks happened in 2019 and 2013 when the building had to be evacuated.
In a letter to the housing secretary, Ms Begum wrote: “It is completely unacceptable that four years on works still had not started by the time of this (third) incident.”
Her letter, seen by the East London Advertiser, asked: “Why was Ballymore Group allowed to wait until a decision on their application to the Building Safety Fund to start remedial works?
“The fears of a repeat of the Grenfell disaster have been present since ACM cladding and other major fire safety defects were identified in 2017.”
Ballymore has a projected value of £4.7billion and could "certainly afford the cost” whether or not successful when applying for funds, the MP points out.
Removing the cladding is costing £12m, with the government putting £8m into the kitty and Ballymore having promised £500,000 — while leaseholders fear they could be left to pick up the tab on the £3.5m gap.
Ms Begum was at the leaseholders' protest demo in Canary Wharf the day after the latest fire, when she told the Advertiser: “Ballymore should stop building anything further until they can make every person living in their properties safe.”
Ballymore declined to respond to her call for a freeze on building and said it was not issuing any further comment, but insisted cladding "did not cause or facilitate the fire".