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Revealed: Several fire-destroyed Wennington homes were uninsured

Fire damaged homes in Wennington, east London after the blaze on July 19, 2022 (PA Wire)
Fire damaged homes in Wennington, east London after the blaze on July 19, 2022 (PA Wire)

Several homes destroyed in the wildfire at Wennington last summer were uninsured, complicating the process of rebuilding the affected properties, it has been revealed.

The village, on the edge of Havering borough in east London, was the scene of a devastating wildfire during the peak of the summer heatwave, on July 19, 2022.

A total of 19 homes were completely destroyed in the blaze, with the fire being seen at one point to leap across a two-lane road running through the middle of the village.

Speaking at a Tuesday meeting of the London Assembly’s fire, resilience and emergency planning committee, Havering Council’s chief executive, Andrew Blake-Herbert, said: “We have a number of properties where residents had no insurance at all.

“If I think about one of the sets of mews of properties that were burned down, one of the properties in the middle of the mews has no insurance.

“The other households can’t rebuild their own homes, because the one in the middle does not have a solution. So the council is again having to step in and pick up that kind of gap where that situation exists.”

The scene after the blaze in Wennington, east London last month, after record temperatures fuelled fires (PA Wire)
The scene after the blaze in Wennington, east London last month, after record temperatures fuelled fires (PA Wire)

Commenting on Wednesday, Mr Blake-Herbert clarified that up to seven properties affected by the fire were thought to have a level of insurance below that required for the rebuild of the homes to the required standard.

He said that in those instances, “it is expected to require the council to underwrite some costs”.

The chief executive continued: “Those costs may be as a result of insurance issues, or where modern building standards require additional costs to be spent.

“As the insurance companies are still involved in establishing liabilities, we are working with them to ensure that the rebuilding of one property is not delayed due to insurance or finance issues.

“Whilst the final extent of this issue is unknown we cannot say exactly how the support will be provided, as this may depend on individual owners’ preferences or situations.

“However, we are not ruling out any form of support, be it loans, grants or other form of support such as shared equity, shared ownership. The council may also be prepared to purchase interests in land and fund the rebuilding of the property.

Firefighters at the scene of a blaze in the village of Wennington, east London (PA Wire)
Firefighters at the scene of a blaze in the village of Wennington, east London (PA Wire)

“We will need to assess each situation on its own merits and come to an agreed solution with each individual owner.”

Addressing the affected families, Mr Herbert-Blake added: “We understand this is a hugely traumatic and stressful process for all involved.

“We want to reassure the affected residents that the council will continue to do all we can to help and provide the support necessary for residents to rebuild their lives.”

The blaze had started as a compost fire in a back garden, but quickly spread. It happened on the hottest day since British records began and a support centre was set up in Hornchurch for people affected.

The London Fire Brigade has said, partly as a result of the events at Wennington, that it has made changes to its equipment and training when it comes to tackling wildfires.