'Concern over reliability of cladding and fire safety assessments'

Smoke billowing from a fire that engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. Picture: PA I

Smoke billowing from a fire that engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. Picture: PA IMAGES - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

It is nearly four years since the Grenfell fire. That tragedy unleashed a wave of misery across the country.

In 2019, lenders began to demand assurance about fire safety as a condition for a mortgage. Buildings now receive a fire safety assessment, called “EWS1” (External Wall System 1). But how reliable are these assessments?

Waterside Park is a large development built seven years ago by Barratts, off Silvertown Way. Last year, it was given an EWS1 “A” rating. That was fine.

Then, another inspection came back with a “B1” rating. That seemed OK, because people could still get mortgages.

In January, there was yet another inspection; this time it produced a “B2” rating. This is a disaster. It is now impossible to obtain a mortgage on any of the flats.


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People who need to move, can’t. Residents will have to pay heavily for a new waking watch service.

MP Stephen Timms says the support from groups during the pandemic has been crucial.

MP Stephen Timms says household overcrowding has made it harder to weather the pandemic - Credit: Archant

People in other local developments face similar problems.

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There is widespread concern about flat owners facing huge costs to fix safety problems. Ministers have repeatedly promised that leaseholders shouldn’t have to pay.

The Fire Safety Bill completed its progress through Parliament last month. It was intended to tackle problems revealed by the Grenfell fire.

Amendments were backed by Labour to force the government to keep its promise.

Ministers refused to accept them. Conservative MPs voted the amendments down on five separate occasions. The government has instead proposed a loan scheme, which would leave many leaseholders bearing the cost.

In the coming weeks, I will speak to building owners, managing agents and construction companies to raise these issues and look for solutions. I will keep readers updated.

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