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No high rises have cladding – but four low rise blocks to be tested

Southwark Council has confirmed that fire-safety tests will be run on four of its low-rise apartment blocks, in response to requests by the government.

Southwark Council’s director of housing Gerri Scott told Monday’s meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) that none of the council’s high-rise estates were cladded.

And she said “we are sure” that none of the council’s blocks were built with Raynobond, the type of cladding that coated the sides of the Grenfell tower, and which many eyewitnesses claim had caused the fire to quickly spread up the block.

Ms Scott said: “Where we think we have stuff that may look like we have some of the same stuff [cladding], it is not in our tower blocks, it is in deck-access, walk-up blocks.

“So at this precise moment in time we have one [building] we would like to test and we have three more that we are almost sure are not, but we’re going to test them anyway, just to be safe.”

On the one building which she said is having its cladding tested, Ms Scott added: “I am almost 100 per cent sure that whilst it looks the same, it’s not the same and it reacts very differently. But we do want to give some assurance and get that tested.”

Tony Hunter, head of engineering, also told the committee that the council “will not be moving forward” with any plans to refurbish flats or carry out major works that involve cladding.

“We have a number of schemes which we’re looking at. We won’t be moving those forward if they have any cladding,” Mr Hunter said, “and we won’t be making any proposals until we’ve seen more about the results of what caused the fire and how we can get a system in place that will satisfy all regulations.”

He added that none of the council’s planned new housing estates had been designed with cladding, and were all to be brick-built.

Housing associations and private landlords across the borough have been contacted by the government’s Department of Communities and Local Government about carrying out fire-safety checks on all cladded buildings, following the Grenfell tower fire.

Monday’s OSC?meeting heard from Southwark Council’s director of housing, Gerri Scott, that “all of the checks and information requests are also being applied to our registered housing providers.

“But the information that we [Southwark Council] are being made to supply is exactly the same as what they need to supply, and the government is holding that centrally.”

The National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, published a statement on June 16, saying: “Housing associations across the country have been working tirelessly over the past few days to reassure tenants. Many are reviewing their current safety arrangements to ensure they meet the highest possible standards.”


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