Chalcots evacuation

Website: news.camden.gov.uk and follow us on Twitter @CamdenCouncil
Call: Contact Camden at 020 7974 4444, option 7 
Email: chalcotsestate@camden.gov.uk

Why was an evacuation necessary?

On Friday 23 June 2017, we were advised by the London Fire Brigade to evacuate Burnham, Bray, Dorney and Taplow. This was as a result of some identified fire safety works required inside the buildings, together with failed results of tests on the exterior cladding undertaken by the Department of Communities and Local Government. 

These two combined issues led to the recommendation from London Fire Brigade that we temporarily evacuate the building so that we could complete the essential works. We agreed a package of works with the London Fire Brigade that would bring the blocks at Chalcots to the required standard of fire safety and allow us to get residents back home. 

Are the blocks safe to return?

The urgent works identified by the London Fire Brigade related to fire containment issues inside the evacuated blocks. 

The works completed so far increase the length of time it takes for smoke and fire spread between flats and floors. The containment works completed to the stairwells and communal doors prevent smoke and fire from entering escape routes and entry points for the emergency services. 

In combination, these remedial works meet to London Fire Brigade’s safety requirements, however, resident safety is our top priority, this is why we are continuing to complete additional works to our blocks, going above and beyond the London Fire Brigade’s requirements to meet an enhanced level of fire safety.   

Building works undertaken so far

On Sunday 23 July we completed the works required by the London Fire Brigade to allow residents to return home. 

Fire safety works required by the London Fire Brigade 

  • communal area fire doors have been upgraded or replaced
  • flat entrance doors have been fitted with overhead door closers and repaired or replaced as necessary
  • fire retardant insulation has been installed around gas work and cable trays
  • stairwell doors now have smoke seals or strips on the edges
  • basement and garage areas have been assessed to ensure compartmentation and fire stopping is sufficient
  • ventilation grilles were checked to make sure automatic opening vents were working properly and we carried out any repairs

These works were approved by independent building control officers from Redbridge, Lambeth and Westminster, you can read their letters below.

Friday 28 July – Euro-compliance Gas Risers 
Sunday 23 July – Westminster Building Control
Friday 21 July – Lambeth Building Control 
Thursday 20 July – Lambeth Building Control
Friday 14 July – Lambeth Building Control

If you live on the Chalcots estate and have concerns about works or want to report snagging issues please phone 020 7974 4444 (option 7) or email chalcotsestate@camden.gov.uk.

Has the London Fire Brigade seen the works?

On Tuesday 11 July, the London Fire Brigade visited the Chalcots Estate to review the works and confirmed that they had been completed in accordance with their advice. 

The London Fire Brigade visited the Chalcots Estate again on Friday 4 August to review works undertaken to address snagging issues. On this visit the fire brigade confirmed that the works were being completed to an acceptable standard.

London Fire Brigade’s Borough Commander for Camden Simon Tuhill said: 

“The Brigade agreed a list of works to improve the general fire safety of the buildings. While more work needs to be done, the Brigade is satisfied the initial work has been enough to allow reoccupation of the buildings.

"What has been achieved to allow reoccupation of the blocks must be maintained and there are more improvements which Camden Council have committed to carry out. We will continue to liaise with the local authority over the changes to improve fire precautions.

"No building is ever completely free from risk which is why regular fire risk assessments by the responsible person are essential and any identified deficiencies rectified.

"Residents also play a key part in fire safety of buildings by ensuring self closers on fire doors are left intact, fire doors are not wedged open and that corridors and staircases are kept clear.”

Future works

External cladding

Camden committed to remove cladding panels from the Chalcots Estate when the cladding panels failed Building Research Establishment (BRE) combustibility tests in June. Further whole system testing by BRE reinforced the failure of the panels used on the Chalcots, confirming the need to remove them from all five blocks. 

We will first be completing preliminary works, removing the cladding system, from the bottom two floors of Blashford and Burnham so that we can assess the removal process and set out a plan to begin taking down the rest of the cladding, starting in October.

The full removal of cladding is a large technical operation that will take several months. It is important it is carried out safely and that we ensure the exterior and interior of the blocks is protected. We will be using mast climbers to undertake these works, this means rising platforms will be erected around the blocks. We are using this method to ensure the ongoing safety of residents and allow easy entry to the blocks for the duration of the works. 

It is important to know what replacement options there might be once the cladding has been removed, we have appointed a specialist design team to come up with the correct safe solution for the Chalcots Estate. The council is committed to keeping residents involved at every stage of the cladding’s removal and the options for replacement as they develop. 

We understand some residents have concerns about the removal of the full cladding system. This is why we are completing the preliminary work on all blocks, so that our expert design to can assess any risks and put in place plans to mitigate the impacts of cladding removal. 

You can read Councillor Georgia Gould, Leader of Camden Council’s statement on our cladding systems here.

Fire door replacement

All flat entrance front doors will be replaced with fire doors providing up to 60 minutes of fire containment. 

These doors are certified to the nationally recognised PAS 24 standard, include a dual bolt Yale lock, three point deadlock and are ‘secure by design’.

We will begin installing these new doors in blocks in September. We will be contacting you to make an appointment to replace your door in the next few weeks, we aim to minimise disruption and arrange a time that is suitable for you. 

Residents interested in seeing the new doors are invited to the site office at the base of Bray. Here, a sample door has been set up as it would be in the entrance to your home. There are also staff and information boards at the site office that will be able to answer any questions you may have. 

Smoke alarms and heat sensors

As an added safety measure we are also installing smoke alarms and heat sensors in all flats. Smoke detectors will be fitted in every room except the bathroom and the kitchen, a heat sensor will be fitted in the kitchen. The sensors are wirelessly connected to each other - this means if one sensor in the flat is activated then all of the sensors will be activated. 

When your alarms are installed you will be shown how the system works and how it can be reset. The smoke alarms have a battery life of ten years. 

Additional fire safety measures

Will you be providing any safety measures for inside my home?

We have carried out Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) of white goods in flats on the Chalcots Estate. We have also installed fire blankets in many of flats. 

Fire wardens will also remain on site to provide an extra level of reassurance. 

Will you be providing further safety measures in my block? 

We will also be undertaking more regular checks of communal areas to ensure they aren’t blocked by clutter. Our caretakers are currently visiting housing estates and removing items in the way of corridors and fire exits. 

Obstructed communal areas can stop you or your neighbours escaping in an emergency. If you need help to remove unwanted items please contact Veolia on 020 7974 2202. 

Will you be undertaking new Fire Risk Assessments?

Yes, we will be carrying out enhanced Fire Risk Assessments in your blocks. These will be carried out by Frankham Risk Management Services, you can read more about this in the ‘Enhanced fire safety checks’ section. 

We published previous Fire Risk Assessments for our high-rise blocks online, you can find them at camden.gov.uk/FRA.

Enhanced fire safety checks

As part of our ongoing work to deliver the highest safety standards throughout the Chalcots Estate, further fire safety assessments have been undertaken. 

Using the standards advised by the London Fire Brigade for fire risk assessment, we appointed a private company, called Frankham Risk Management Services, to carry out these enhanced fire risk assessments.

They are a private company accredited by the BAFE (British Approvals for Fire Equipment) which independently acknowledges their fire protection experience.  Frankham have been on site inspecting the communal areas and reviewing a number of residents’ flats, including assessing the window frames, the fitting of new flat entrance doors and the removal of existing cladding.

Residents are reminded that the council carried out the works that the London Fire Brigade said needed to be done in communal areas in order to ensure they could return to their homes, but that there is an ongoing programme of improvements works to deliver even higher standards within the building, including their flats. 

Finance and payments

Will I be charged rent whilst I am out of my home?

We agreed not to charged tenants rent or council tax until Monday 24 July (any payments taken by direct debit will be refunded).

If you are a private tenant, your council tax will not be charged and we will reimburse your rent for the duration you are in temporary accommodation. Submit evidence of your tenancy and rent (for example, your tenancy agreement) to chalcotsestate@camden.gov.uk

What financial support was available to residents?

All evacuated residents were able to claim a one-off payment of £100. Evacuated residents were also able to claim £20 per person per day to use for essential items. 

All claims for £20 subsistence have now been paid. If you have any queries regarding this please e-mail chalcotsestate@camden.gov.uk.

Will I be able to claim for any other expenses?

We understand that you may have had to pay exceptional costs while you are unable to live in your own home, and we will consider reimbursing reasonable expenses. 

Please send all claims and proof of expenditure to chalcotsestate@camden.gov.uk.

When will I hear back about my expenses claim?

A panel of council officers have been reviewing expenses claims and we are now in the process of notifying residents whether or not they have been successful. 

Claims have been rejected where there has not been enough information supplied, or the claims did not meet our criteria. We have set out the full criteria on the overleaf of the incoming correspondence relating to your claim. 

Residents dissatisfied with the response to their claim can appeal to the Chief Executive’s Central Complaints Unit. 

Until when can I submit my expenses claim?

We have extended the deadline to submit applications for reimbursements. You now have until midnight on Sunday 15 October 2018 to send us details of your claim and receipts. We will only be accepting claims in exceptional circumstances after this date. If you need additional time or are having trouble submitting your claim please email chalcotsestate@camden.gov.uk or contact housing officers Ramona Damiean on 020 7974 6609, or Annie Freeman on 020 7974 6581, who will be able to assist you. 

Resident support

If you have issues or concerns you can contact your Housing Officers. Housing Officers for the Chalcots Estate are:

Annie Freeman, call 020 7974 6581, or email Annie.Freeman@camden.gov.uk.

Ramona Damiean, call 020 7974 6609, or email Ramona.Damiean@camden.gov.uk.

If residents feeling stressed and anxious can access a number of mental health support services. These include:

  • iCOPE - This NHS service offers confidential support for stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia. Camden and Islington Foundation Trust have said they will prioritise any Chalcots residents who contact them – residents can refer themselves by calling 020 3317 5600 or online via icope.nhs.uk/self-referral
  • Mind – Camden and Holy Cross are running a Healthy Minds summer programme. Call 020 7241 8996 for an initial consultation after which point a care navigator will meet with you to discuss your concerns and plan activities for you. Chalcots residents can access this service for free.  
  • The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust - Offering support to Chalcots residents through a telephone conversation, after which you will be allocated a clinician who can provide further appointments and support. Referrals can be made by calling the Camden Joint Intake Service on 020 8938 2241, 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
  • The Anna Freud Centre - Parents who are concerned about children or teenagers can receive support as part of Anna Freud’s Parent Consultation Service (PCS). Parents are encouraged to call Laura Baver on 020 7443 2261. Anna Freud also offers a Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention service – call David Trickey on 020 7794 2313. 

You can also speak to your GP who can help you access support if you would like it.

Parking

We would like to thank all residents who moved their vehicles from the underground car parks. The underground car parks are now closed to all vehicles and residents’ entry fobs have been temporarily deactivated. Anyone who would like to remove their vehicles from the car parks should call 020 7974 8521 or email estateparking@camden.gov.uk to discuss their options. 

Can I still use the underground car park?

In order to build the rising platforms to remove the cladding from your block we have had to clear the underground car parks. We must do this to ensure the safety of your vehicles from any damage, as well as the structural integrity of the rising platforms we’re using the scale the buildings. Arrangements have been made for effected residents to park in controlled parking zone CA-B. Residents will be updated throughout the car park closure and where possible they will be able to return to the underground car parks. If it is not possible to return, residents will be given permits to park on street for the duration of the works.  

Why have you suspended some resident parking spaces in the surrounding areas?

We have suspended some resident parking bays in order to allow delivery of materials to carry out work at Taplow, Bray, Burnham and Dorney. The bays will be suspended until further notice to allow large vehicles to turn safely in and out of the estate.

The suspensions are located at:

  • Fellows Road at the entrances to Dorney and Bray
  • Adelaide Road outside and opposite Burnham
  • All bays in Winchester Road between Adelaide Road and the entrance to Taplow

We would ask all residents to move their vehicles out of the suspended bays as soon as possible. If vehicles are not removed, they may be relocated by our removal trucks as part of these suspensions.

If you are a resident in Taplow, Bray, Burnham or Dorney and you find your car has been moved, then please call Contact Camden on 020 7974 4444 to find out where your car has been moved to. Please note Contact Camden will get an update on moved cars by 4pm each day.

Where can I park my car?

To help lessen the impact of these suspensions, resident permit holders will be able to park in ‘paid for parking bays’ in the following locations:

  • Winchester Road (north of Fellows Road)
  • Eton Avenue

If you have a resident permit, you can still park on other streets within the controlled parking zone.

I have received a Penalty Charge Notice - will it be cancelled?

We are aware that some residents of the Chalcots estate received Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) over the weekend of 23 to 25 June whilst being evacuated from their properties, or because their vehicle has been moved because of works taking place. Please be assured that we will be cancelling these PCNs. Call the number on the back of the PCN and we will process the cancellation. We ask all residents to be careful where they park and read the above information in full.

Fire Risk Assessment

On 3 July, the Leader of the Council, Georgia Gould made a public commitment to publish Fire Risk Assessments for all blocks above 10 storeys in the interests of resident safety and transparency. The first tranche, covering the five Chalcots blocks, have now been published and can be viewed here. 

When reading the FRAs, it is important to note that these reflect historic practice with Camden’s new practice detailed below and it is also important to bear in mind the following general points.

  • Fire Risk Assessments are a statutory requirement. They include an action plan which sets out what the Council should do to reduce the risk. 
  • They provide a snapshot of fire safety at the point in time at which they were carried out. The contents of the resulting action plan vary considerably as do the timescales which the report specifies for the completion of those works. 
  • Often the most urgent actions involve the removal of fire hazards in communal areas which would immediately reduce the fire risk. 
  • Any works to the fabric of the building such as fire doors or fire stopping between flats inevitably take longer to complete and a longer time is specified in the FRA. The Council seeks the advice of the London Fire Brigade on prioritisation and programmes these into planned maintenance. 
  • Standard industry practice to date has been to carry out FRAs on the communal areas of blocks only. As such they only provide a partial picture of the fire safety of a building and have not covered the cladding and the interiors of individual flats. 

Grenfell has however changed everything. 

So now and into the future 

  1. The Council will be appointing a new Director for Resident Safety. 
  2. A new wave of enhanced fire safety checks (over and above the current statutory requirement and beyond current best practice) on every block in Camden will be undertaken. These will be thorough and their scope will be clear. The reports will be published so the process is transparent to our residents.
  3. We will set up a borough wide resident safety-working group led by tenants and leaseholders to oversee these processes.
  4. Advise and provide training opportunities for tenants in every block in Camden on fire safety

FRAs are inevitably technical documents, so we have produced a set of Frequently Asked Questions to help the reader to interpret them. Each individual FRA is prefaced with a summary and any subsequent actions the Council has taken in response. 

Ongoing maintenance works

What repairs will Camden Council cover? Are there any exceptions to this? What is my responsibility? 

From Friday 4 May 2018 at 5pm the council started to deliver heating maintenance on the Chalcots Estate. This is because United Living, the subcontractor for PFIC and who have had responsibility for heating maintenance at the Chalcots Estate until now, will no longer be providing this service. 

We anticipate other PFIC subcontractors may stop providing repairs and maintenance services at the Chalcots Estate in the near future. We are preparing to take over these services when required and we will write to all residents soon when we can confirm any changes. 

The contractor Rydon currently cover building repairs to flats and communal areas in your block. This includes some electrical repairs in communal areas like lighting and automatic opening vents. If you need a repair (apart from heating and hot water) you still need to report them as normal to Rydon on 020 7288 8322.

What contractors are we using?

We are using BTU to cover heating repairs. If Rydon suspend services, the building repairs inside flats and in communal areas by the in house team and the communal electrical repairs will be covered by the council’s contractor, Openview. The council will recruit additional trade staff to supplement its in house.

Will any of the current tradespeople stay?

We have no information as yet from other contractors as to their intentions or any workforce implications. 

PFIC were due to replace boilers. When will this work be done now?

The council will assess the boilers annually as part of its servicing regime and replace as required. 

I’m a council tenant. How do I contact the repairs service?

Heating repairs can be requested through 020 7974 4444 then Option 3. Building repairs and communal electrical repairs still need to be requested through Rydon on 020 7288 8322 until we have any new information.

I’m a council leaseholder. How do I contact the repair service?

Leaseholders are responsible for their own internal repairs but all building and electrical repairs need to be reported to Rydon as normal on 020 7288 8322 until we tell you about changes.