Havering Council is taking steps to serve an improvement notice against the Mercury Gardens Axis buildings’ owners, following a series of investigations into potentially unsafe cladding.
The notice comes after several independent investigations into the buildings found that the materials used in the external cladding no longer comply with the latest building regulations, and could pose a risk in the event of a fire.
The improvement notice will order the buildings’ freehold owner undertake remedial work to replace the unsafe cladding in compliance with current regulations.
Building regulations within the Housing Act 2004 were changed in November 2018, following the Grenfell Tower fire, with the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), which helps determine the risk of a fire that could arise from hazardous materials, and helps determine the right course of action.
The improvement notice will mean the freeholder will have to commission a qualified chartered Engineer to carry out repair works on the cladding, removing the unsafe material and replacing it with materials compliant with current building regulations.
The improvement notice will identify a timeframe in which work should be completed, giving approximately 12 months for work to finish, though this could be altered if the work proves more complicated than originally thought, or in the event of another COVID-19 lockdown.
Since the issue was identified, the freeholder has installed a ‘waking watch’ with staff patrolling the site on a 24-hour basis to ensure early detection of a fire.
Havering Council is in the process of collecting data for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) for all residential high rise buildings over 18m in height in the borough, excluding those owned by housing associations, to understand what insulation and cladding materials are present on those buildings and whether similar risks exist.
A spokesperson for Havering Council said:
“We understand why the residents of Axis are concerned and this improvement notice mean that the freeholder will need to take action to make the buildings safe.
“The Council is committed to working closely with the freeholder, landlords and leaseholders to ensure these improvements are carried out quickly, safely, and with as minimal disruption as possible.
“We are also working to quickly assess other residential buildings within Havering to ensure this, or any other non-compliant cladding, is replaced for your safety.”