James Cracknell reports
Cladding at a £50million housing scheme has failed fire safety tests – but the developer has not confirmed if it will be replaced.
External materials at the Walthamstow Stadium redevelopment were tested following the Grenfell Tower tragedy last month. Landlord London and Quadrant (L&Q) has since confirmed that cladding at the scheme’s six-storey Lingfield Apartments block failed the fire safety test, and says it is “taking expert advice on the best solution”.
Lingfield Apartments is the largest of seven housing blocks recently completed at the former dog track in Chingford Road, where 295 homes have been built. Following the Grenfell Tower disaster on 14th June the government advised that blocks of six storeys or higher should undergo testing. Only two blocks at Walthamstow Stadium are taller than six storeys, and at least two of the smaller blocks appear to have identical cladding to Lingfield’s.
One resident at Lingfield, who did not wish to be named, told the Echo: “It doesn’t seem unsafe. They said they will replace the cladding and I am okay with that. It is very well managed and there a lot of safety features.
“They should have tested the cladding before [the fire at] Grenfell Tower, but it could have happened anywhere.”
When asked by the Echo to confirm that the cladding at Walthamstow Stadium would be replaced, an L&Q spokesperson said: “We are talking to the fire authority and to our contractors and will be taking their expert advice on the best solution. Our first priority is the safety of our residents and we will consider all possible methods of mitigating fire risk.
“Cost will not, and never has been, a barrier to providing the most appropriate solution. While the cladding at Lingfield Apartments has failed the BRE [Building Research Establishment] test, the block meets building regulations and is fully compliant with safety requirements, which are based on a number of fire safety components.”
Lingfield Apartments is one of nearly 200 buildings around the UK to have failed fire safety tests in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, in which at least 80 people died. External cladding at the privately rented block has been confirmed by L&Q to be of a ‘Category 2’ fire risk designation – below the highest standard.
When the Echo visited Walthamstow Stadium today a security team was checking the development for fire hazards. One security guard said: “We are patrolling every hour, and talking to people if they are smoking. It is nothing to be afraid about.”
Waltham Forest Council has stated that none of its homes have failed fire safety tests. Councilor Khevyn Limbajee, cabinet member for housing, said: “We are concerned to hear that Lingfield Apartments has failed the fire safety test but pleased at the quick response from L&Q to keep residents safe.
“Our number one priority is the safety of residents and we are ready to support the London and Quadrant Group as they implement any recommendations following this news.
“We are monitoring the ongoing investigation into the Grenfell Tower disaster closely. Our planning and building control departments continue to ensure that developments in the borough meet all current safety regulations.”