'Stop tower dwellers being charged £2.4m to replace unsafe cladding' Tower Hamlets urges government
PUBLISHED: 18:24 30 November 2018 | UPDATED: 08:35 21 December 2018
Housing Secretary James Brokenshire has been urged to step in to stop households being slapped with a £2.4 million bill to replace fire combustible cladding covering the New Providence Wharf complex.
Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs has written to the minister over the 559 households in the luxury tower blocks on the Thames waterfront at Blackwall being asked by the developers to pick up the tab.
“This puts the residents in real financial hardship,” the mayor pointed out. “The developer having identified the cladding as ‘unsafe’ has clearly not done the right thing.
“Residents have to sleep each night knowing the cladding on their building is unsafe—this is simply unacceptable.”
The cladding was installed when the Ballymore development was completed in 2004, but now needs to be replaced with safer material in the wake of last year’s Grenfell Tower disaster.
The Housing Secretary previously said that land owners should pay for the work, not leaseholders, the council points out.
“They must pay the costs to replace the cladding,” the mayor insists. “I have called on the government to compel them to do the right thing.
“People’s safety should be paramount—it’s unfair that the householders are being asked to pick up the tab for the work.”
He has pushed Mr Brokenshire to take action where developers don’t accept responsibility for the costs.
Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick has also urged the government to press the freeholder to “do the honourable thing”.
But according to Ballymore, the development “met building regulations and legislation of the time”. The scheme also had Tower Hamlets planning approval.
However, the issue was now who pays for the work to replace the combustible material which is similar to the cladding that caused the Grenfell tower blaze in west London to spread so rapidly, leaving more than 70 people dead.
Tower Hamlets commissioned fire safety work on all its 900 council blocks including high-rise buildings, following the Grenfell tragedy.
The council found 10 tower blocks had similar combustible cladding such as Whitechapel’s 23-storey Denning Point in Commercial Street and six in Bethnal Green’s Cranbrook Estate off Roman Road, all built in the 1960s.
But the safety work didn’t include private developments like New Providence Wharf. The council wants to make sure they are also safe and is calling for government backing.