70 high-rise blocks in Camden among applications to cladding cost support fund

Some leaseholders have faced bills for tens of thousands of pounds elsewhere in the country

Saturday, 30th January 2021 — By Harry Taylor


West Hampstead Square

OWNERS of about 70 high-rise private housing blocks in Camden have applied to a government fund set up to support leaseholders facing thousands of pounds of cladding costs.

The figure emerged in the answer to a written question from Lib Dem councillor Flick Rea and shows the extent of possible fire safety issues in the borough. Numbers affected may be even greater, because buildings less than 18m tall are not included in the figures.

Last week, the New Journal reported that residents in luxury apartments in West Hampstead Square have been told they may have to pay repair work costs for the cladding being replaced on the blocks in West End Lane.

A “waking watch” fire patrol has now been set up by its owners Ballymore, and a “stay put” evacuation procedure in case of a fire has been scrapped in favour of immediate evacuation. Some leaseholders have faced bills for tens of thousands of pounds elsewhere in the country.

In an answer to Cllr Rea last week, the council said that its surveys showed 11 “waking watch” patrols were taking place in private or housing association blocks.

Housing chief Labour councillor Meric Apak said the council has also applied for external facade works to blocks on the Cromer Estate in King’s Cross.

A Lib Dem group motion at last week’s full council meeting urged the council to back the national “End Our Cladding Scandal” campaign, which calls for removing all dangerous cladding by June 2022 and indemnifying residents from associated costs.

However, the meeting hit its time limit of 10pm before councillors could discuss it.

Group leader Cllr Luisa Porritt said: “Leaseholders need justice. They need to feel safe in their homes and they should not bear the costs of other people’s negligence.”

Cllr Apak said the council had taken a number of steps to address resident safety in its council housing stock and to support resident safety across the borough. He added: “The council is also actively involved in lobbying Government on the issue of building safety, working at a Londonwide and national level. . . to press for adequate funding and support any resolution of fire safety issues affecting residents of high-risk blocks.”

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