‘Safety comes before cost’: Judge rules Grenfell-style cladding must be stripped from Whitechapel apartment blocks

·1-min read
<p>ACM cladding will be removed from the towers at 52-58 Commercial Road</p> (Google maps)

ACM cladding will be removed from the towers at 52-58 Commercial Road

(Google maps)

Two London apartment blocks will be stripped of their combustible Grenfell-style cladding after a judge ruled that safety concerns have to be put before questions over cost.

Plans are underway to remove aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding from the 18-storey residential towers at 52-58 Commercial Road, Whitechapel.

ACM was used in the doomed refurbishment of Grenfell Tower, and has been blamed for the rapid spread of fire on the night of the 2017 disaster which claimed 72 lives.

A government fund was set up in the wake of the Grenfell disaster to avoid private leaseholders having to foot the bill for essential cladding replacement work.

However 96 of the 125 apartments in the Whitechapel blocks are owned by corporate entities - Aldgate Property Limited and London Lettings and Management Limited - rendering them ineligible for government funding.

The companies objected to the work starting without proper consultation, raising concerns that they had not had a say over the “substantial” cost that they will now face.

But Judge Frances Silverman, sitting in the First-tier Tribunal, ruled the urgency of the work must be prioritised over questions of cost.

“In considering this matter the Tribunal also took into account the three-and-a-half year time elapsed since Grenfell,” said the judge, referring to the “ongoing risk and anxiety suffered by those tenants who are living in the building”.

“Those risks are unconscionable and outweigh any potential financial detriment suffered.”

ACM cladding is on the top-three storeys of the blocks, which were built in 2008, as well as on other parts of the towers, and non-combustible material has been sourced to replace it.

The building currently has a £10,000-a-week ‘waking watch’ in place, which has to continue until the dangerous cladding has been removed and fire safety concerns have been addressed.

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