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Chalcots tenants fear heat costs will rise after cladding removal

Residents say Camden Council must listen to them over towers plan

07 September, 2017 — By William McLennan

THE council’s decision to remove both flammable cladding and fire-retardant insulation covering the Chalcots estate has been questioned by residents, who fear they will be hit by damp and rising energy bills this winter.

Many residents of the five tower blocks in Adelaide Road have been calling for the exterior panels to be removed since it was revealed they were unsafe in June and last week the Town Hall confirmed works would begin this month.

But some have questioned the need to remove the non-flammable “rock wool” insulation that sits behind the metal panels – which are made of two sheets of aluminium with a plastic core. Around 3,000 people were evacuated from their homes in June and spent a month in emergency accommodation while urgent fire safety works were carried out inside the blocks.

Resident Simon Morris said he was disappointed they would be left “with no rain-proofing nor insulation as we head towards winter”. While he welcomed the news that the cladding will be removed “a couple of months after [Camden] promised it would be removed”, he was concerned about the insulation being stripped out. He said: “I don’t think Camden has adequately explained why we will be put through even more noise and disruption along with higher energy bills and the risk of damp and mould etc.”

Mandy Ryan, a member of the Dorney tenants’ and residents’ association, said she wanted the insulation to be removed, but felt that people needed to be consulted before action is taken. She said: “I think they need to talk to the residents. They need to ask people’s opinions. They need to ask everybody want they want.”

Announcing the removal of the cladding last week, council leader Georgia Gould said two storeys of cladding and insulation would be removed from Burnham and Bray as part of a trial to determine how the rest should be taken down. She said: “It is important that we know what options are open to us once cladding is removed. To move things along quickly, we have appointed our own specialist design team to come up with the right solution for the Chalcots. Residents will be engaged at every stage as the work progresses.”

Anthony Royle, who chairs the tenants’ and residents’ association in Bray, said that as of yesterday (Wednesday) representatives from each tower would be holding weekly technical meetings with the council’s design team. He said: “Until now there hasn’t been a mechanism for consulting residents.” He added: “We raised the point that a trial is fine, but you can’t start stripping all the cladding and insulation off unless you have got an answer on what you are going to put on to replace it.”

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