Chalcots crisis: Frustrated residents set to block ‘ridiculous’ window work
'We told them what we wanted, but they didn’t listen'
21 April, 2019 — By Tom Foot
Mandy Ryan from the Chalcots Estate
REBEL residents are set to block access to building workers on the Chalcots estate – the scene of Camden’s fire safety evacuation crisis – claiming they have been ignored over “absolutely ridiculous” designs for new windows.
Town Hall chiefs have ordered inward-opening windows to be fitted to hundreds of homes at the blocks in Adelaide Road. They also include ankle-height window sills, which means radiators and piping inside flats will have to be moved.
The work follows two years of disruption for tenants and leaseholders, who were suddenly forced from their homes on a Friday evening in June 2017 following an evacuation order. Fire safety flaws had been exposed by an inspection held in the wake of the Grenfell disaster, and cladding wrapped around the towers has already been removed.
Mandy Ryan, one of several Chalcots residents to contact the paper this week, said: “We told them what we wanted, but they didn’t listen. There was never any discussion about radiators being moved during the consultation. We are more than peeved off, and we will just deny access if it comes to it.” She said offers of alternative accommodation during the works should be “put in writing” by the Town Hall.
Ms Ryan said “big knobs” with “blue shirts and man-bags” were once again “hanging about and looking very busy” on the estate ahead of another major works programme. The windows are being replaced after inspectors found “combustible materials” in the curtain walls, a metal structure that contains the windows and the insulation panel.
Tom Simon: ‘Wrong decision made on faulty reasoning’
Belsize Lib Dem Cllr Tom Simon, who was part of a steering group on the window designs, said the council’s decision “seems to be almost universally extremely unpopular”. He added: “It is the wrong decision made on faulty reasoning. The way it has been made is an act of extremely bad faith with the residents of the Chalcots, who will now face further major upheavals to their lives because of this change, which they have never even been asked about. The council needs to stop and rethink its approach.”
The council has said the cost of replacing windows is around £30million. Questions around the Private Finance Initiative used to refurbish the blocks remain unanswered, with the council still trying to navigate through a web of contractors and subcontractors to find out who knew what when. The New Journal has called for a full, open investigation to give residents a clear explanation over what led to them being ordered from their homes.
The council said residents would not have to move out of their homes during the window works.
Cladding removal teams at the towers last year
Housing chief Cllr Meric Apak added: “During the engagement process last year, residents made clear that their three key criteria for the new windows were for designs that would allow good ventilation, keep people inside the flats safe and keep out noise.” He added that the tilt-and-turn-inwards window is the only window option that meets these criteria, safety requirements and current building regulations.