‘No Structural safety issues’ in Ledbury estate, despite fire-safety fears raised by tenants with cracked walls

News Desk (06 July, 2017)

Fire wardens have been present on every second floor of the four tower blocks since Friday, after gaping cracks were found in dozens of tenants' flats

17832The Ledbury Estate, off Old Kent Road

Ledbury Estate residents were told yesterday there are “no structural safety issues” with four tower blocks – dozens of flats being found riddled with cracked walls.

Fire wardens have been present on every second floor of the four thirteen-storey blocks in Peckham since Friday.

They were called after one resident contacted the London Fire Brigade (LFB) last week, and stressed fears that cracks in walls of many residents’ flats could “compromise” their “compartmentation” fire-safety features.

Arup construction workers, hired by Southwark Council’s housing department, began structural surveys of the flour blocks on Monday. The News had spoken to residents who said cracked walls had been a problem on the Ledbury for at least 30 years, and mentioned rumours that Bromyard House could have subsidence.

But residents yesterday received a copy of an email from Arup to the council’s head of asset management, David Markham, which said: “Arup engineers have found no structural safety issues, but are continuing to investigate and will make recommendations for remediation work if required.”

The two-paragraph email said representations would be made to residents on July 11, to coincide with the Ledbury Tenants and Residents Association’s AGM, with the council and LFB also present.

Images provided by Ledbury Estate residents, who complained that cracks in their walls were a serious fire risk

Residents also received a letter from the LFB’s borough commander of Southwark, Neil Chisholm. Neil’s letter referred to the resident who called the LFB last week about cracks in their home.

It said: “It was confirmed that there were only minor issues regarding the compartmentation of the flat in question and, clearly doubts were raised regarding the block as a whole.”

The letter added: “Arrangements are being made to secure long-term solutions and rest assured that the enhanced measures currently in place in the Ledbury Estate, will not be lifted until these measures are satisfactorily actioned.”

Responding to the two letters, a Ledbury resident, who wished not to be named, told the News: “This initial email doesn’t tell us very much at all, aside from assurances that the building won’t immediately collapse.

“Residents here are determined that whatever investment is needed to bring these towers up to standard will be made.

“We will be seeking assurances from Southwark Council over the coming days and weeks and asking them to undertake whatever major works need doing.”

When asked by the News If there are fears that leaseholders may have to pay expensive bills for refurbishment works on the estate, the resident said: “Leaseholders are concerned about that, and that’s something we’re going to be addressing. We will fight tooth and nail that the leaseholders will not be made to account for the freeholder’s failings.”

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