Lambeth Council sets out fire safety improvements required at a private tower block

9 December 2020

Written by: Lambeth Council

Council statements and updates - Health and Wellbeing - News and announcements - Post Type - Topic area

The owners of a tower block in north Lambeth have been told that they need to carry out improvements after an inspection revealed fire safety deficiencies.

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Lambeth Council sets out fire safety improvements required at a private tower block

Council officers this week served a suspended improvement notice on the owners of 1-3 Murphy Street, detailing actions including the removal of aluminium composite material (ACM), the type of cladding used at Grenfell Tower.

The property, which is just off Baylis Road, is a purpose built block comprising commercial units on the ground floor and nine flats over seven storeys. The ACM cladding, which is limited to the side elevation and the top floor duplex apartments, has been tested and shown to be Category 3 – the highest risk.

A council inspection of the block, carried out in September, revealed a number of “minor deficiencies” and some issues with the management of the building. Officers acknowledged that, in general, the fire safety systems at the block are “satisfactory”, and that the owners have done a lot of work to make sure residents are safe.

However, the presence of the cladding remained the main concern. The Building owners are in the process of applying for Government funding to replace the ACM cladding

The building doesn’t have a waking watch, where staff patrol the building throughout the day and night and would be responsible for raising the alarm to the fire service and residents. As an interim measure the building owners have fitted heat detectors just inside all the windows that open onto the cladding, providing an effective alarm system to alert residents to a cladding fire.

The formal notice served this week sets out all the deficiencies identified by officers -mainly the cladding – alongside the works required to remedy them.

However, to reflect the much-improved arrangements in place at the block and the owner’s progress getting the funding to remove and replace the cladding utilising Government funding, the improvement notice is suspended for 6 months.  This gives the owners the opportunity to deal with the matters themselves, but sets out the council’s position in case the required works don’t proceed as expected.

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. Our work to tackle the risks posed by ACM since then have included the creation of a Task Force to identify and deal with cladding in  Private Housing Sector (PSH) high rise throughout Lambeth.

“This notice shows that we are using our powers to protect residents and deal with ACM wherever we find it. But it also shows that many building owners are responding positively to the cladding issue.”

Lambeth Council last month ordered urgent safety improvements at a private tower block in Streatham, after an inspection revealed “significant fire safety deficiencies” a series of fire safety deficiencies. The improvement notice served on the owners of Norwich House Apartments required a list of remedial actions – including the removal of ACM cladding.