Dismore calls for action over unsafe cladding on private tower blocks: names Premier House Edgware as having ACM fire risk cladding

At today’s London Assembly Mayor’s Question Time, Andrew Dismore AM, Labour London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden, called on Mayor Sadiq Khan to take action over unsafe cladding on privately owned tower blocks. Mr Dismore gave as an example Premier House Edgware as having fire risk ACM cladding.

 Mr Dismore asked the Mayor: 


‘At the Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning Committee on 19 July, we heard evidence that some private tower block owners are not coming forward when they suspect they have ACM cladding or similar because of the impact on the building’s valuation if ACM cladding is present. What steps are you taking to urge private tower owners to come forward if they suspect their cladding to be flammable; work out how many privately-owned tower blocks with flammable cladding there are in London, independent of self-reporting; and make sure residents can find out if their home is clad in a flammable material?

‘Can I give you the example of Premier House, Edgware, in my constituency? You may recall me raising this building with you a couple of years ago, when it was controversially converted from offices to residential under the Government’s permitted development rights (PDR). Whilst the LFB say that there are good fire protection measures internally, when the Brigade inspected it last June they found that the tower block has ACM cladding. The Brigade are now regularly visiting the block. Government guidance says this cladding should be removed, but there appears to be no sign of this happening, and the building is subject to a simultaneous evacuation policy. Isn’t this an example of both the problems caused by PDR and the approach of private sector landlords to dealing with the removal of cladding?

‘Gary Strong, global building standards director at the RICS, told us at the Fire Committee that some building owners did not want to disclose they have this really expensive problem, some were reluctant even to get their cladding tested, and some did not want to tell the Government about it. He said that the number of affected private buildings was about 600, double the official figure. Will you work with the LFB and boroughs to establish just how many privately-owned tower blocks with flammable cladding there are in London, independent of self-reporting and help residents find out if their home is clad in a flammable material?’

The Mayor said that it is very distressing for residents. The Government has failed to act promptly. All local authorities are required to compile lists, and we are working to support the local authorities. Little has been done to remediate the problem. The Government should pay for the removal work upfront, and then claim back from landowners, so disputes between leaseholders and freeholders don’t stop the work. This example is a case study of the problems of permitted development rights. The Mayor is aware of the anxiety of residents. He can’t force landlords to give access, but he will look at the work of the Fire Committee and how we can go forward on it.