CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Cladding firm at Chalcots insists it met Camden Council’s specification

Tenants demand to know 'who signed it off'

29 June, 2017 — By William McLennan

THE firm that installed cladding that is now set to be stripped from the Chalcots estate insist their work met the specification they were given and was approved by Camden Council.

Harley Facades defended its work after the Town Hall announced it was removing the cladding on the basis that testing had discovered it contained the same plastic material found in materials used at Grenfell Tower.

Camden was the first local authority in the country to receive sampling tests back as councils across the country check for use of polyethylene in the wake of the fire tragedy in north Kensington, which claimed the lives of at least 79 people after a blaze quickly engulfed the 24-storey tower.

It immediately ordered the removal of the cladding. Council leaders faced repeated calls of “who signed it off?” and “who checked it?” as they met a room full of residents, simmering with fear and anger, at Swiss Cottage Library on Thursday to discuss the cladding, before the full scale of the crisis was known and the order for a full evacuation. Ray Bailey, managing director of Harley Facade, a family-run firm based in East Sussex, said in a statement: “These works were as described in the contractual specification and approved in the usual process for construction and building control by the London borough of Camden.”

Asked about Harley Facade’s claims, council leader Georgia Gould said: “My understanding is that we specified non-combustible cladding, and that part of that cladding has turned out to be combustible. We are looking at this really carefully, we are investigating it and we are taking legal advice.”

Rydon, the lead contractor, which sub-contracted the work to Harley Facades, added: “All our work meets required building regulations – as well as fire regulation and health and safety standards.” It is understood the company has warned the council to exercise caution over comments about work undertaken at the towers. The New Journal has obtained a copy of the building regulations certificate, signed by a member of Camden Council’s building control team in July 2008, which states that the works “had been inspected and, in so far as the officers of the council have been able to ascertain, the requirements of the Building Regulations are satisfied”.

The council’s independent assessor Faithful +Gould commented: “In general, the role of an independent assessor is to check that what is built by the contractor is done to the specification and standards specified by the designer.”

Kentish Town-based architects HTA, who were employed by Rydon to design the cladding on the Chalcots estate, said: “These buildings were clad in ACM panels of a similar type to the ones reportedly used at Grenfell Tower but, as confirmed in Camden Council’s statement, installed as part of an entirely different assembly incorporating non-combustible mineral wool insulation.”

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