letter to editors on cladding and Premier House

Dear editor,

At City Hall’s Fire and Resilience Committee Gary Strong, global building standards director at the RICS,  said  that some private building owners did not want to disclose they have   Grenfell type ACM cladding, because this is a really expensive problem, and some were reluctant even to get their cladding tested and 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.

Premier House, Edgware was controversially converted from offices to residential under the Government’s permitted development rights (PDR), a conversion I opposed at the time as it was totally outside the usual planning consent rules. It resulted in the displacement of many local charities and small businesses.

Premier House is a case study of one of the problems of permitted development rights- it has dangerous cladding as part of the conversion.  Whilst the London Fire Brigade 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 building is now subject to a simultaneous evacuation policy and the Fire Brigade are now regularly visiting the block to check its fire precautions.

Government guidance says this cladding should be removed from privately owned blocks but the Government has failed to act promptly in making this happen, as disputes arise as to who should pay for it.

I believe that the Government should pay for the removal work upfront, and then claim back from landowners, so disputes between leaseholders and freeholders don’t stop this vital safety work going ahead.

Andrew Dismore AM

London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden