Chalcots residents fear more work on crisis-hit estate will take toll on their health
Invasive programme of work for tower blocks
25 May, 2019 — By Tom Foot
HUNDREDS of residents have been told their walls are to be knocked down during a disruptive and invasive programme of works on the crisis-hit Chalcots estate.
Mock-ups of new windows and cladding panels due to be installed in the five blocks in Adelaide Road by June 2021 were put on display at the Swiss Cottage Library on Tuesday. Construction workers are expected to go into each of the 800 flats for several days at a time while walls are knocked down, new radiators fitted and electrics rerouted.
The council has told residents they will start entering flats from June 1 to assess their needs and make inspections.
Several residents, who were evacuated during unprecedented scenes in 2017 after a fire safety inspection in the wake of the Grenfell disaster in 2017, say the prospect of more disruption is making them anxious and depressed.
Debbie Cooke, who lives in Taplow, said: “My biggest problem is the serious disruption – how long it’s going to be, and how it’s going to make me feel? I don’t know I can put up with this work, I really don’t. I have an issue with mess. I suffer spinal problems, depression.”
She added: “I believe they are going to be coming four to five foot into the flat, and putting up sheeting. This is absolutely disgusting, it is absolutely outrageous how they want us to live. When they came in with the fire-stopping, it made me quite ill. I like my flat. If they couldn’t do the fire-stopping right, how are they going to get such a big thing like this right?”
Residents said they had not received answers to questions about whether they will be compensated for new flooring, wallpaper and curtains. There are also questions about whether the current windows in the estate are in breach of building regulations.
The council says they must put new windows in with lowered sills because of safety concerns, warning that small children could topple out of the windows as they are. But this means radiators and wiring have to be moved and entire walls need to be replaced.
The low sill design is a blend of two options consulted on earlier this year by Camden Council.
It is different to the design residents of the five blocks in Adelaide Road said they voted for in their own survey. Belsize ward Lib Dem Councillor Tom Simon has said the design is “the wrong decision made on faulty reasoning”, adding: “The way it has been made is an act of extremely bad faith with the residents of the Chalcots, who will now face further major upheavals to their lives because of this change, which they have never even been asked about.”
The council boards at the library said scaffolding would start going up in September, and works are due to come to an end in the five blocks by June 2021. Questions from residents were left on Post-it notes were on a board fixed to the wall. One said: “I’ve been here for 20 minutes and no one has spoken to me.” Another added: “My friend left three questions on the board. Why are they not here?”
Councillor Meric Apak, cabinet member for better homes, said: “We appreciate that Chalcots residents have experienced a lot of building works in the last few years and the disruption that comes with this. We will work with residents closely to minimise the impact of future works as much as possible.”