Why some families can't leave Bow's 'dangerous structure' tower block

Tower block on Montieth housing estate deemed structurally unsafe

Tower block on Montieth housing estate deemed structurally unsafe - Credit: Mike Brooke

The tower block which has been declared structurally unsafe in Bow where 120 families were evacuated two weeks ago is now becoming a ghostly and empty shell.

Only 14 households remain in the 22-storey Clare House on the Montieth estate near Victoria Park.

The few leaseholders who own their flats and the chronically ill who can’t be moved easily have to stay put for the moment.  

Dan McCurry... one of 17 leaseholders at Clare House negotiating with Clarion Housing

Lawyer Dan McCurry... one of 17 leaseholders at Clare House negotiating with Clarion Housing - Credit: Daniel McCurry

“It’s all too quiet,” lawyer Dan McCurry told the East London Advertiser. “There’s no more community here. I looked up as I arrived home and saw just a handful of lights on.” 

Dan has lived on the 18th floor for 20 years. He is one of 17 leaseholders now having to negotiate with Clarion Housing, which runs the former Tower Hamlets housing estate.

They seek fair valuations for their leased properties before they can sell up and get out.

Valuations were being made on October 15 and will be revealed in a week.  

Clare House in Bow... being evacuated after engineers deemed it structurally unsafe

Clare House in Bow... being evacuated after engineers deemed it structurally unsafe - Credit: Mike Brooke

The high-rise structure was built in 1972 with load-bearing concrete panels bolted together. That's similar to the ill-fated Ronan Point in Canning Town, which partly collapsed in 1968 after a kitchen gas explosion blew out several supporting panels. 

Most Read

That danger was recognised at Clare House when sprinklers were being installed last month on government guidance — four years on from the tragedy at Grenfell Tower in west London, which was clad in material which helped spread the fire.

Angry residents staging a meeting outside Clare House after being told they had 48 hours to evacuate 

Angry residents staging a meeting outside Clare House after being told they had 48 hours to evacuate - Credit: Mike Brooke

Clarion initially told families on October 3 that they would have 48 hours to be evacuated. That led to a confrontation which saw the police called. 

The families responded by staging an open meeting outside the building with mayor John Biggs and MP Rushanara Ali, when the housing body began a more orderly evacuation process. 

Clarion's spokesman told the Advertiser this week: “We are making progress moving residents safely out and so far have supported 106 households into temporary accommodation.  

“We have a 24-hour watch and security in operation and a controlled re-entry to ensure the safety of those that remain.” 

24-hour fire watch at Clare House

24-hour fire watch at Clare House - Credit: Mike Brooke

Care House now faces an uncertain future, with Clarion not yet sure if it should be rebuilt and made safe — or pulled down altogether. 

Clare House... now emptying out

Clare House... now emptying out - Credit: Mike Brooke

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter