L&Q’s chief operations officer says a third of the residents forced to move from Arch Street while fire-trap cladding is removed have now been made ‘firm offers’ for rehousing within Southwark.
Speaking to the News, Andy Brown said the housing association was doing everything it could to support them and the decision to move everyone out had not been taken lightly.
Describing the situation as ‘incredibly unfortunate’, he offered his ‘huge sympathy’ to the tenants and leaseholders, telling the News: “We are doing absolutely everything we can to support the residents and treat them as we would want to be treated ourselves.”
He also maintained their first offer for any residents who want immediately to move out and stay in hotels while permanent accommodation funded by L&Q is still on the table.
According to the housing association, around one third of households are firming up offers of rehousing in the borough or have made their own arrangements – and they also confirmed they would not have to pay service charge for the duration of the works.
More than 100 people living in 52 flats at 26 and 28 Arch Street were told last month the new-build blocks built in 2011 by Willmot Dixon were unsafe after all due to its external cladding.
Known as ‘high pressure laminate’, this is not the same as the aluminium used in Grenfell tower, but it is highly combustible when used with certain combinations of materials.
After a government review found it to be high risk, it was banned from being used in new builds. A fire safety engineer who inspected Arch Street for L&Q said in his report that the cladding would mean a fire could spread rapidly across the entire building.
Across L&Q’s portfolio, a £50 million fund has been set aside to remove dangerous cladding from its properties.
Mr Brown said L&Q was working with Willmot Dixon to ensure the building was made safe and that it also wanted to ‘make good’ on long-term issues that have left residents frustrated including leaks, heating and security concerns.