Saturday 24 June 2017

UPDATED: Octavia clarify safety situation regarding Elizabeth House in Wembley

Octavia Housing has clarified the situation regarding the safety of Elizabeth House in Wembley High Road. This is the block referred to in many press reports as the one affected block in the London Borough of Brent.

The 120 foot high block of 115 apartments over 12 floors was built by Willmott Dixon who are responsible for many new builds in Brent.

The London Fire Brigade has told Octavia that they see no immediate or urgent concern over Elizabeth House.  Octavia, who met with residents yesterday, state there is no immediate need for removal of the building's cladding or evacuation of residents.  If it is decided to remove the cladding this may take a matter of months.  They will be keeping in close touch with residents and will keep them advised of any change in the situation.

A statement issued yesterday by Noel Brosnan, Octavia's Asset Management Director:
We were assured, and have since been reassured, that Elizabeth House meets all of the building regulations in place at the time. It has a variety of safety features including sprinklers in all flats and at the point of handover from the contractors, we also had a fire strategy drawn up, which the London Fire Brigade (LFB) had input into and final sign-off on.

Since hearing the news that some of the cladding used at Elizabeth House did not meet the highest standards set by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), we have followed all the procedures set out by the Department of Communities and Local Government. Our staff have been on site throughout the day and we have arranged 24//7 patrols to reassure residents. 

We have had an independent fire assessor visit the site and confirm that no immediate action is required. The London Fire Brigade have also visited the site and have confirmed that they have a good impression of the building and stated it was very well managed and so he can see no need to immediate or urgent concern. Residents should be reassured that we are doing, and will continue to do everything necessary to ensure their safety.

To date, we have been given no advice from external authorities, nor have our own inspections highlighted any urgent or high priority issues that require immediate action. We will continue to keep in contact with the relevant authorities and our residents and will take action necessary to ensure safety. 

To reiterate, we are surprised and dismayed and will be looking into this situation further over the coming days. Our number one priority remains the safety of our residents who we are sending regular updates to. We had a meeting with residents on site this evening.
Meanwhile Brent Council leader Muhummed Butt was reported by Sky News LINK with a not very illuminating statement:
Brent Council leader Muhammed Butt told Sky News the high-rise block in his area that failed the Government's fire safety test has been checked by the fire service and evacuation was not deemed necessary.
This is the letter Octavia House wrote to residents of Elizabeth House:

26 June 2017 Update at 9.00

Dear Residents

Following the decision from Camden Council to evacuate residents from several blocks over concerns of fire safety over the weekend, we wanted to reassure you of the situation at Elizabeth House.

As many of you will know, on the evening of Friday 23 June, I attended a resident meeting at Elizabeth House, along with a representative from the London Fire Brigade (LFB) who confirmed that he had conducted a full building assessment. He gave very clear confirmation that because of the various safety features of Elizabeth House, our management and fire strategies in place, no immediate action is required. This means that it is safe for you to remain in your homes and no immediate removal of cladding is necessary. This has been backed up by a separate independent Fire Assessor and our own reviews.

Camden Council chose to evacuate residents in some buildings because, ignoring the fact that the cladding used is made of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM), other major fire safety failings were also found. This is NOT the case at Elizabeth House.

We are already investigating how we can swiftly replace the existing cladding with a proper and managed replacement programme, which will take some time.

We are keeping in close contact with the London Fire Brigade and are following all the guidance issued by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to ensure that all possible safety precautions are being taken. We are also continuing the 24/7 patrols of Elizabeth House for your added reassurance.

If any further updates or action are required, we will update you as soon as we are made aware.

If you have any concerns, please call us on 020 8354 5500 or check the website for further information.

Finally, at the meeting on Friday some residents asked to see the response sent in answer to the questions set out in a letter from Barry Gardiner MP to Octavia on 22 June, which I have attached as promised.

Kind regards
Noel Brosnan
Director of Asset Management

 Below is their letter to Barry Gardiner, MP for Brent North:

1 comment:

jenny cooper said...

Wilmott Dixon, responsible for many refurbishments on buildings opened as free schools in a rush, were fined a few years ago for breaches of health and safety in an M&S store in Bournemouth- asbestos exposure. They can't be trusted!!