Lewisham Homes acted quickly following the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, with Government safety tests finding that the three tower blocks at Gerrard House and Hatfield Close had dangerous cladding. As well as introducing a 24-hour fire patrol service in the buildings, they engaged United Living to carry out safety works and remove the cladding as a matter of urgency.
Following Grenfell, any project involving the removal of cladding from a residential high-rise block and development of technical solutions for cladding and fire prevention is rightly under intense scrutiny, so it was imperative that technical investigations and solutions were right and aligned with the latest Government guidance, best practice and changes to Building Regulations.
The initial phase saw United Living engaged under emergency measures to erect scaffolding, remove the ACM cladding and undertake fabric investigations and temporary repairs to maintain weatherproofing around windows.
The next stages involved undertaking intrusive FRA surveys and structural investigations and remedial work including fire stopping and compartmentation within properties, before developing the design and specifications for the replacement cladding, windows and associated works. Once these were agreed, construction work began.
As the blocks remained in occupation, the safety of residents, their visitors and members of the public, including maintaining safe access routes, means of escape, segregation from work areas etc. remained a constant focus. The logistics, coordination of works, and advance and ongoing communication with residents was a critical aspect in developing our methodologies and undertaking works.
Due to the political & media interest and resident safety concerns, our Communication Strategy, developed and agreed with Lewisham from outset, has been critical to managing communications.
Our site based Resident Liaison Officer closely engaged with residents and kept them updated and informed through regular resident consultation meetings in the evenings and at weekends to keep residents informed as well as one-to-one meetings in their homes. The cladding colour for the Terracotta tiles was chosen via resident ballot.