Lambeth Council demands action over “significant fire safety deficiencies” at a private tower block

16 November 2020

Written by: Lambeth Council

Community Safety - Council statements and updates - Environment - Health and Wellbeing - Housing and planning - News and announcements - Post Type - Topic area

Lambeth Council has ordered urgent safety improvements at a Streatham tower block after an inspection revealed a series of fire safety deficiencies.

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Lambeth Council demands action over “significant fire safety deficiencies” at a private tower block

Officers have served an improvement notice on the owners of Norwich House Apartments, requiring a list of remedial actions – including the removal of aluminium composite material (ACM), the type of cladding used at Grenfell Tower.

The block, on Streatham High Road, was originally offices, but has been converted into flats. It houses 103 flats over six storeys, with commercial units on the ground floor.

A council inspection in August identified “serious and significant fire safety deficiencies”, including the presence of ACM cladding shown to be the highest risk (category 3). Inspectors also reported issues with the building’s fire safety systems, service cupboards being used to store combustible materials, an insufficiently protected 7th-storey boiler room and a malfunctioning smoke extraction system.

The Norwich House owners and their management company were alerted to the problems, and told of swift improvements they were expected to make, related to the CCTV system, smoke alarms and smoke extraction, and their evacuation strategy.

The council has now served an improvement notice on the owners of Norwich House, following consultation with the London Fire Brigade, setting out the action needed to make the building safe. The owners will need to remove the ACM cladding within a year, but the other works will be required within four months.

The owners have reported that they have appointed a firm of fire engineers, that they have repaired the smoke extraction system and are working on the CCTV and fire alarms. They have also informed the council that they plan to remove the cladding with financial help from the Government’s ACM remediation fund.

Word from the Cabinet

Councillor Jennifer Brathwaite, Deputy Leader of the Council (Housing and homelessness), said: “Lambeth Council has a responsibility to ensure all tower blocks in our borough – council-owned and privately-owned – meet the highest safety standards.

“The need to protect residents in all our tower blocks has been even more acute since the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017, and we have worked hard to deal with the risks posed by ACM since then.

“Where we find there is work needed to ensure the safety of residents, we will take whatever action is necessary. We’ve told the owners of this building what work is required, and we’re committed to working closely with them to ensure these improvements are carried out quickly, safely, and with minimal disruption to residents.”

Lambeth Council has in the past criticised the “permitted development” rights enabling the conversion of office units into housing, warning that they had resulted in the loss of office space and in some cases produced designs for that were unsuitable for people to live in.