Dangerous cladding removal from tower blocks drags on

Privately owned residential tower blocks are lagging behind the social sector in the race to remove dangerous ACM cladding from the nation’s homes, some three and a half years after the fatal Grenfell Tower fire.

The latest Government data release in mid February shows that while all high-rise blocks in the social housing and student rental sectors had either begun or completed ACM remediation work, there are 35 private high rises, six hotels and one publicly owned building where remediation work has yet to begin.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has taken the unusual step of ‘naming’ 14 companies which own ACM clad tower blocks, where work has not started in an effort to shame them into action. Campaigners, charities and

MPs are demanding more needs to be done in speeding up the removal timetable and providing help, particularly for shared owners and leaseholders who are stuck in properties they cannot sell.

Following the Grenfell fire, a total of 461 high-rise residential buildings and publicly owned buildings were found to have the same or similar ACM cladding systems as Grenfell and unlikely to meet Building Regulations. Since then a massive programme of remediation work has taken place with all 156 social sector high-rise blocks now free of the cladding (144), or where work is still underway (12).

The picture in the private sector is not as positive, where 213 high-rise buildings were identified with ACM cladding systems unlikely to meet Building Regulations and just 74 of these buildings have completed all remediation works, leaving 139 yet to be remediated. Of these, 104 have started remediation, but there are still 35 buildings where no work has begun.

There are approximately 11,600 to 14,000 individual flats and apartments in private sector tower blocks where work is still underway or they are occupied and work has yet to start, leaving them at risk of another fire.

There were 54 high-rise student accommodation buildings identified with ACM cladding systems unlikely to meet Building Regulations. Of these, 46 have completed remediation while work has started on the other eight buildings.

Robert Jenrick said:

“The stats show that, despite the pandemic, significant progress has continued to have been made with remediation work either complete or onsite on around 95 per cent of buildings. This is a big step forwards. While there is still more to do, we are helping make the highest-risk buildings with dangerous cladding safer, more quickly.”

By Patrick Mooney, Editor