Moving residents from Bridport House
Council tenants at Bridport House in Hoxton will need to move from their homes while work to replace incorrect insulation is completed.
The 41 families will be offered another temporary or permanent home within Hackney, as well as other options, so that potentially combustible insulation used in the construction of the building in 2011 can be removed.
Investigations over the last few months have revealed a series of other serious construction defects, including missing barriers to stop the spread of smoke and fire, as well as flawed brickwork, balconies and windows. The Council will be taking legal action against Willmott Partnership Homes, the contractor that built Bridport House.
The building is currently safe for residents with the additional fire protection measures introduced by the Council in April immediately after concerns were first raised – including 24-hour patrols and a change in evacuation procedure.
However, after speaking to the London Fire Brigade, Health and Safety Executive and independent experts, the Council has decided it would be unsafe for residents to remain in the building while work to remove the insulation and replace it with the correct type takes place. It would also be hugely disruptive for residents to remain living in the building, and would prolong repairs. Residents will need to move gradually over the next 12 months, but there is no need for emergency action.
The work would include the removal of all brickwork and balconies, exposing the existing insulation and creating a fire risk. It could take around two years to complete, starting once all residents have moved. The Council’s Cabinet will make a formal decision on the future of the building next month.
Engineers working on a separate project on the building in March identified that the insulation may be incorrect, and the Council appointed a team of experts to investigate this and other defects in April.
Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville and senior Council officers met residents tonight to explain the decision and outline a series of bespoke options for residents – who will receive first choice on other Council properties and a package of compensation – to move.
We are sorry for the failures in the construction of Bridport House, and for the huge disruption residents continue to face.
Moving residents from homes we all hoped would be new and permanent is not an easy decision, but our first priority is their safety, and we have decided that at Bridport House, doing this work while the building remains occupied would create an unacceptable risk.
We will do everything we can to ensure that this process is as smooth as possible, with a dedicated team and independent advice to support tenants into the best homes we have available and a package of compensation that recognises the immense upheaval to their family lives.
We will be taking legal action to hold those responsible for these failures to account. We also should have done a better job.
This was not an easy decision to make, but as we’ve demonstrated through our proactive work to remove cladding on other buildings, install thousands of new front doors and publish fire risk assessments online, we will never take any risks with fire safety.
The insulation is not ACM cladding – the type used at Grenfell Tower – and differs from that being removed on blocks in Hackney and elsewhere because it is part of the original construction of the building, rather than retrospectively fitted onto the exterior of an older block.
Council officers will hold individual meetings with all tenants over the next few days to discuss their needs and support them into a temporary home, or a permanent transfer if they wish. No work will begin until all residents have moved from the building.
Help and support for tenants, as well as the report the Council has received from experts, is available on the Bridport House page.