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James Hatts

Strata SE1 skyscraper fire safety: ‘no cause for concern’ - council

Southwark's housing chief says that the council has no high-rise blocks covered in cladding panels similar to those at Grenfell Tower - but that it has made enquiries about fire safety at private skyscrapers such as Elephant & Castle's Strata SE1 tower.

Strata SE1 and Draper House
Strata SE1 and Draper House

"Central government has asked all landlords to review all of their tower blocks for cladding," Gerri Scott, Southwark's strategic director of housing and modernisation, told the overview and scrutiny committee on Monday night.

"Southwark has 174 tower blocks in the borough, and we are sure none of them have cladding on them at this precise moment in time.

"We have some lower-rise properties – which are not high-rise buildings in terms of the building regulations definition – that do have some cladding on them.

"We are not sure if that cladding is an issue or not, but we're clearly going to have that tested, and we've provided that information to Government.

"All of the registered providers in the borough – the housing associations – have been asked to provide the same information.

"We've also looked at other high-rise buildings in the borough such as Strata and Highwood. Clearly they will be of concern.

"Strata and Highwood: both are new-build high-rise blocks – so the building regulations are quite different for them – they all have have sprinkler systems fitted so we don't think they are cause for concern."

The management of Strata told the SE1 website that the building's cladding is "made of non-flammable mineral-wool, not flammable polyethylene, and every Strata apartment is equipped with sprinklers".

Strata SE1 adjoins the council-owned Draper Estate and any large-scale fire at Strata would be likely to affect Draper House too, with residents having raised concerns with ward councillors since the Grenfell Tower fire.

Highwood Gardens is part of Lendlease's Elephant Park development on the former site of the Heygate Estate.

The video of Monday night's overview & scrutiny session on fire safety can be viewed online:

• Part 1: https://bambuser.com/v/6776067
• Part 2: https://bambuser.com/v/6776105
• Part 3: https://bambuser.com/v/6776118
• Part 4: https://bambuser.com/v/6776148

During the meeting Cllr Stephanie Cryan, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for housing, confirmed that the council would now consider fitting sprinkler systems in its high-rise buildings.

The cross-party committee unanimously agreed to make a formal recommendation to the cabinet member that she commission a study into the options and costs of fitting sprinklers in the council's tall buildings, as well as other fire safety measures.

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