Chalcots work ‘could have cost £26m less’, rejected contractor claims

Camden says bid did not take into account 'esential requirements'

Friday, 18th March — By Harry Taylor

Chalcots estate evacuation2

The night the Chalcots was evacuated in 2017

A CONTRACTOR who lost in the bidding process to carry out work on the Chalcots Estate has criticised the Town Hall’s approach, warning it is paying too much.

D+B Facades, which submitted a proposal to reclad, install new windows and the curtain walls of Bray, Burnham, Dorney and Taplow took the unusual step of publishing a report on their website lambasting the process.

The company said that the design specified by Camden is “untested”, has high maintenance costs and means the tower will be fully scaffolded for the duration of the works.

Concerns were also raised about flats overheating due to Camden’s prescribed design.

It criticised Camden’s approach where they have specified the design and materials, but put the risk on the contractor.

The firm put in a bid that met Camden’s specification, but used it as a way to put forward their alternative idea that it says would cost at least £26m less and be less invasive by using mast climbers.

Peter Hillyard, managing director of D+B said: “If I was a resident I would be concerned. We specialise in design and build, and have specialised in aluminium cladding. We’ve done similar projects recently, in Slough, and we were done within a year.

“We know what we’re doing, but we just couldn’t work with this. We were being told what design to have and what materials to use, but take on all of the liability. It’s just awful and it happens across the industry.”

The Chalcots was evacuated in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower disaster in July 2017 over concerns about fire safety. Residents slept on the floor of Swiss Cottage leisure centre.

The New Journal has called for an investigation into the events that led up to the evacuation.

McLaren was appointed the contractor for the new work in December, for a £77m project due to run until end of next year.

Conservative councillor Steve Adams said: “I think D+B have a point. They feel that it could have been done with mast climbers which would have been hugely more popular with the residents, and far less invasive.”

He added: “They are saying that it is the only way to do this, but it’s not too late to get an external party to look at all the issues raised by D+B’s report.”

A Camden Council spokesperson said D+B’s bid did not include the removal of all non-regulatory cladding material, which it required for the new cladding system.

They added that mast climbing would have lengthened the project.

Camden’s housing chief Labour councillor Meric Apak said the council had hired “world class engineers” and had “clear requirements” on safety and quality.

“Another requirement was the inclusion of windows that have been carefully designed to meet the highest standards of safety and ventilation, that will reduce overheating and include features that residents value, such as the preservation of the large living room window.” he said.

“The proposals submitted by D+B Facades did not take full account of these essential requirements.”

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