City Peninsula cladding removal works
Cladding is being removed on buildings across London, including at these blocks on the Greenwich Peninsula

Five years on from the Grenfell Tower disaster, 73 buildings in Greenwich borough still have serious fire safety defects such as flammable cladding, combustible balconies or missing fire breaks, according to data released by City Hall.

Events have been taking place across London to mark the anniversary of the fire, which killed 72 people in a tower block in North Kensington on June 14, 2017.

The disaster revealed the issue of issue of unsafe, highly-flammable cladding attached to high-rise buildings. While the cladding used at Grenfell Tower has now been banned, a total of 1,100 buildings across London’s 32 boroughs are still blighted by safety defects.

People living in those buildings must evacuate in the event of a fire, which could spread quickly, and are alerted either by a waking watch patrol or a common alarm system – and are often left paying for the measures, which can cost thousands of pounds.

Greenwich is the fourth worst affected borough with 73 buildings subject to simultaneous evacuation orders, having been identified as fire risks by the London Fire Brigade. Of those buildings, 10 are below 18 metres in height, meaning leaseholders are unable to apply for the government’s Building Safety Fund which covers the cost of removing flammable cladding from residential tower blocks.

Lewisham has 47 affected buildings. Of those, 16 are under 18 metres high, including Norfolk House in Deptford, where this website spoke to residents last year. Bromley has four, while Bexley has three.

Norfolk House, Deptford
Norfolk House in Deptford is a few centimetres too small to qualify for grants to remove dangerous cladding

The worst affected borough is Tower Hamlets, with 165 buildings under simultaneous evacuation orders, followed by Southwark (94) and Hackney (87).

The figures were provided by London mayor Sadiq Khan following a question from Labour London Assembly member Anne Clarke.

Responding to the figures, Clarke said: “Everyone deserves to feel safe in their homes. The government must extend remediation support to all residential buildings with safety defects or combustible cladding, regardless of height.

“The Building Safety Bill was finally passed last month, but many measures will take a year to 18 months to introduce. It’s not good enough. Ministers have to act now so people aren’t living in fear for another five years.”

Those living in buildings which require a 24-hour waking watch are eligible to apply for the Government’s £30 million Waking Watch Relief Fund which covers the cost of replacing the expensive patrols with common alarm systems. However, just 83 grants from the fund have so far been paid out in London.

A government spokesperson said: “The Grenfell Tower tragedy must never be allowed to happen again and our thoughts are with the bereaved families, survivors and residents.

“So far 45 of the UK’s biggest housebuilders have signed our developer pledge and will contribute £5 billion to fix their unsafe buildings. We expect them to work swiftly so people feel safe in their homes, and we will be carefully scrutinising their progress.
“The Building Safety Act brings forward the biggest improvements in building safety for a generation, giving more rights and protections for residents than ever before.”

Additional reporting by Darryl Chamberlain

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