Royal Artillery Quays
Residents in Royal Artillery Quays in Thamesmead are among those who have had to pay for a waking watch

Greenwich is among the London boroughs worst affected by the capital’s building safety crisis, with just two boroughs having more unsafe tower blocks.

The London Fire Brigade revealed last month that there were more than 1,000 buildings in the capital which require residents to evacuate in the event of a fire rather than stay put due to defects such as flammable cladding.

These buildings require measures such as a waking watch or common alarm system to alert residents if a fire breaks out – measures introduced in the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire that tragically killed 72 people in 2017.

Following a written question to London mayor Sadiq Khan from Labour assembly member Anne Clarke last week, it has been revealed that 71 such buildings are in Greenwich.

Another 162 are in Tower Hamlets, while Hackney has 82 buildings that have been placed on simultaneous evacuation orders. Southwark also has 71 tower blocks that have simultaneous evacuation orders in place.

Lambeth has 67 unsafe blocks, with 57 in Lewisham. Bexley and Bromley have three each.

Following the publication of its data last month, London Fire Brigade commissioner Andy Roe said that he was “extremely concerned” that the number of buildings identified as having fire safety defects continues to increase.

Since that data was published, an additional 47 buildings in London have had evacuation measures put in place after fire safety defects were discovered, bringing the total to 1,053.

Bellway protest
Residents of Bellway’s New Haddo estate protested in Greenwich in June

Of that total, 214 buildings are under 18 metres in height, which means leaseholders and tenants are ineligible to apply for funding from the Government’s £5 billion Building Safety Fund or the £30 million Waking Watch Relief Fund.

In Greenwich, nine buildings are ineligible for help, as are 17 in Lewisham.

Earlier this year, 853 reported on residents in Royal Artillery Quays, Thamesmead, who are eligible for help – but many already face severe financial problems as a result of increased service charges – and their counterparts in Norfolk House, Deptford, who are ineligible.

During the summer, residents of the New Haddo estate in west Greenwich held a protest outside a sales office of the company that built their homes, Bellway.

Khan has previously said that he will “continue to advocate for leaseholders, who in no circumstances should have to pay for the cost of remedial or interim measures”.

He said: “While funding for remediation should be forthcoming from developers themselves, as I have long called for, a more strategic approach is required to tackle the scale of the building safety crisis. In December 2020 I called for the introduction of a developer levy to pay for cladding remediation and other building safety work.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to announce a levy on residential developers with profits greater than £25 million in his autumn budget tomorrow, with hopes that it could raise up to £2 billion towards the cost of removing dangerous cladding from high-rise buildings.

Additional reporting by Darryl Chamberlain

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Joe Talora is the Local Democracy Reporter for the Greater London Authority. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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