Tag Archives: September

Resident Association speaks against retro-fitting water sprinklers at Council meeting (18 January 2018)

Housing and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting of 14 September 2017 a resident from the Alton Estate spoke at the Council meeting against the need for retro-fitting water sprinklers in tall buildings. This is covered in Paper 17-269A.

Now the Edgecombe Hall Estate Residents’ Association SW19 (West Hill) provides their views at the Housing and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee of 18 January 2018. This is covered in Paper 18-12A.

From the Paper’s Summary it states – “This report sets out a request by Mr. Young, on behalf of Edgecombe Hall Estate Residents’ Association SW19 (West Hill), for the Committee to receive their deputation under Standing Order No.13 in connection with the Council’s proposal to install sprinkler systems in tower blocks of ten or more storeys, (which is subject to the Council making a proactive application to a First Tier Property Tribunal which will determine the Council’s ability to undertake the works; leaseholders objecting to the programme will be encouraged to make representations to the Tribunal) as set out in Paper No. 18-12”.

Please note that all information is provided on a best efforts basis and that readers should make their own efforts to review and assess the provided content.

Contact

Email us at – roeregeneration@yahoo.com – and let us know of any concerns/thoughts you may have or add a comment at the end of the blog entry in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section.

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Or email your Roehampton and Putney Heath Councillors at;

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Leaseholder emails Council Committee about retro-fitting water sprinklers raising queries and questions

The attendance of concerned and interested parties at the Wandsworth Borough Council Housing and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee of 18 January 2018 were many, in fact, the viewing gallery was almost full.

The below email highlights meeting observations of one individual who emailed all of the Councillors who sit on this Committee.

 __________________________________________

 To: Councillor Aydin Dikerdem; Councillor Charles Lescott; Councillor Claire Clay; Councillor Ian Hart; Councillor Jane Cooper; Councillor Nick Cuff; Councillor Paul White; Councillor Stuart Thom; Councillor Sue McKinney;
Cc: Thayyiba Shaah;  Councillor Jeremy Ambache; Councillor Peter Carpenter; Scott Couldridge; Councillor Malcom Grimston;
Sent: Saturday, 20 January 2018, 17:04
Subject: Housing and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee – 18/1/18 – thoughts from the gallery

Dear Councillors,

It must have been a delight to see the gallery so full of interested individuals.

The following are 12 points which are observations (which is hoped may be of some benefit) and queries which I seek clarity on please.

Please note that many residents are ‘bcc’ into this email.

  1. By the numbers……..

Shambolic, the Councillor that asked how many leaseholders could provide a view at the First Tier Property Tribunal should have known this number, in fact, all Councillors who are on this Committee should have this information to hand. It was within Council Paper 17-269 which was submitted at this very Committee on September 14th 2017. Perhaps it might assist if the numbers were shared with you all, it was within footnote #2 which stated that“Wandsworth Council has 99 blocks of ten storeys or more containing 6,401 residential flats and maisonettes – 4,043 tenanted, 1,315

resident leaseholders and 1,043 away leaseholders”. So, this means that 2,358 leaseholders can provide a view at the First Tier Property Tribunal, not the“1,400” mentioned at this meeting.

Any Councillor with some level of interest may even wish to know per ward – how many buildings are impacted per ward, the split of leaseholders (residents and away leaseholders) along with the number of tenants. Each Councillor would, I’d like to think, have a handle on the numbers within footnote #2 and how this may be of relevance to their ward? Perhaps this is taking too much interest?

Did you know that of the “99 blocks of ten storeys or more” it seems that Allbrook House is included within this 99? Just in case you were not aware this is scheduled for demolition as part of the Alton Estate regeneration so the Council might be saving some pennies?

  1. First Tier Property Tribunal (FTPT)

One of the outcomes of this meeting was that it seemed that at least two of the Councillors on this Committee appeared to have had little idea of what this FTPT is all about. If true, how can a Councillor make such decisions involving such vast sums of funds without knowing what this FTPT is and the potential challenges the Council could face?

After the planning fiasco of the portacabins (planning application 2016/5912) through which one of the ward Councillors was to provide a representation to the Council Planning Application Committee though did not as it seems that Councillor was not aware of what delegated powers Council planning officers had, it might be prudent that Councillors receive a mandatory welcome pack explaining some aspects of what they need to know, such as what can or may not be submitted to a Planning Application Committee, or that the Council is a freeholder and leaseholders, believe or not, have rights too and what these rights are.

In any event, please find a link which provides some background as to what a FTPT is – https://www.gov.uk/courts-tribunals/first-tier-tribunal-property-chamber

  1. Costs – lack of faith in Council estimates

Given that in Paper 18-12 the cost of the cladding regarding Sudbury House and Castlemaine went from £6m to £18.286m (this being the additional provision of £12.286m mentioned within this paper) then to what is the degree is there a level of confidence in the Council’s £24m allocation (Section 15, Paper 17-269) for retrofitting water sprinklers? If the costs doubled to £48m or £72m will the Council still be amenable to this endeavour?

On a much lower level, perhaps the recent example of major works for maisonettes on the Alton Estate may provide an example of why leaseholders could be sceptical of the Council’s estimates. A letter dated 20th March 2014 for “Notice of Intention – External Redecoration & Associated Repairs” was for £2,586.92. A letter only seven months later, 13th October 2014, for “External Redecoration & Associated Repairs” was for £4,864.90. That is almost double the cost within seven months. It is hoped that the Council is confident regarding the sums involved.

  1. Costs – to leaseholders

One of the 99 buildings impacted from the Manresa neighbourhood has paid the princely sum of £12,475.05 for a two bedroom flat within a 13 month period as calculated below;

2016 (paid in October 2016)

£880.00 major works

£1,152.44 for the annual service charge

2017 (paid in October 2017)

£9,446 for major works

£996.61 for the usual annual service charge

Part of the reason for regeneration in this area is due to the levels of deprivation, so how the Council thinks many of the residents in this ward  can keep emptying their pockets to pay for these works is a query that has to be posed to you?

In other words, the sum mentioned in the comment “these costs (approximately £3,000 to £4,000) will be imposed upon leaseholders with relatively short notice” (section 17, Paper 17-269) could perhaps double or triple if using the cladding increased costs as a proxy.

Referring again to section 17 within Paper 17-269 the comment “An extension beyond 48 months may draw criticism from other leaseholders facing relatively substantial bills for major works, for example in 2015/16 1,231 leaseholders were billed for major works charges in excess of £3,000” might be worth re-doing with 2016/17 in mind to focus on the costs applied to these 99 impacted buildings. 13 of the 99 impacted buildings which are on the Alton Estate have paid, or are paying, for the installation of double glazing works which means that just with this sample that circa 700 leaseholders would have easily paid over £3,000 (which the example on point 4 highlights) in service charges which stacks up heavily versus the Borough wide figure of 1,231 mentioned earlier.

Section 18 of Paper 17-269 refers to “The Council operates a service charge relief scheme in cases of hardship, with the Director of Resources having delegated authority to grant financial relief on a case by case basis, which could be accessed by a leaseholder with genuine difficulty in meeting the additional costs. This could be through offering extended payment terms to qualifying leaseholders or through a reduction in the overall amount billed as approved in Paper No.15-422”. If not familiar with the detail of this paragraph it might be a suggestion to start looking at it as there is already a lot of concern from residents regarding affording additional major work costs.

  1. Impact on tenants and leaseholders – time off work

Do not underestimate the impact of this. The very recent double glazing of the same flat referred to in section 4 has gone well beyond the two days of inconvenience that was suggested it would be.

In fact, it might be something for the Council to consider that leaseholders should recharge the Council for time off work which goes beyond the promised timescale.

  1. No challenge to Councillor Rory O’Broin regarding numbers

It was fascinating that Mr Cameron Young, the gent that provided a deputation on behalf of Edgecombe Hall Residents Association, was grilled on the numbers of leaseholders and tenants that he represented, yet no Councillor asked the same of Councillor O’Brien? It would have been interesting to understand the detail of the numbers that Councillor O’Brien was representing especially as three of the five Resident Associations mentioned in section 7 (Paper 18-12) are from St Mary’s Park.

  1. Leeds Building Society mention

The mention of Leeds Building Society not providing mortgages to tall buildings without water sprinklers needs to be taken in context. Using figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders, this lender has 1% of the market for the value of mortgages outstanding as of 2016 and ranks 15th. Information on market share can be obtained from the following link – https://www.cml.org.uk/documents/largest-mortgage-lenders-2016/2largest-mortgage-lenders-2016.xlsx

  1. Leaseholders position understated

Section 7 of Paper 18-12 states the following – “There has been some resistance from leaseholders to date: objections have been lodged by five residents’ associations (Battersea High St RA (St Mary’s Park), Ethelburga Tower RA (St Mary’s Park), Andrew Reed House RA (West Hill), Edgecombe Hall RA (West Hill) and Totteridge House RA (St Mary’s Park)), a small number of individuals from other blocks and one non-resident indicating they were opposed to the Council’s decision to impose the retro-fitting of works and recharge leaseholders”.

It is very surprisingly that the Alton Estate, with 42 of the 99 buildings impacted, is not mentioned. Two Residents Associations have made representations, Cadnam Point and Finchdean House. Many leaseholders have made their views known to both Councillor Cooper and Councillor McKinney. The Alton Leaseholders has started largely as a reaction to retor-fitting water sprinklers, and currently has 60 out of the circa 700 leaseholders impacted with the expectation that this number will grow when more leaseholders become aware that, at present, they are to be charged for this (though first, they need to become aware of the water sprinklers situation as many are not familiar with it).

Furthermore, the Western Area Housing Panel of 11th September 2017 had a challenging debate around the topic.

In any event, thank you to Councillor Grimston for acknowledging the concerns of leaseholders from the Alton Estate during this meeting.

  1. Fire Risk Assessments

Apologies if I missed this in the various Council documents, though the Fire Risk Assessments of 2016 do not appear to have been mentioned. As Councillors, have any of you taken the time to review one of these reports?

Within them section 2.6.8 asks “Are sprinkler systems present?” and the response in the report is “Not required”. Bearing in mind that section 9 of Paper 17-269 states that “The standard Wandsworth right to buy lease gives the Council the right “to do such things as the Council may decide are necessary to ensure the efficient maintenance administration or security of the Block” and it is considered that this provision enables the Council to retro-fit sprinklers in individual leasehold flats. „Security‟ in this context includes safety, which properly and reasonably includes facilities and equipment to fight and prevent the spread of fire” this view, to a layman, would seem to be contradicted by the Fire Risk Assessment, unless the Council is not standing by the content of the Fire Risk Assessments?

  1. Borough Resident Forum (BRF) Vice Chair personal views

It is questionable whether the Vice Chair of the BRF is permitted to be providing personal views on topics discussed at this meeting. An answer on this query is requested please.

  1. BRF paper 18-11

Having taken a hard copy of the Agenda which contains various documents it is noticed that Paper 18-11 was not within it and therefore likely not read by Councillors prior to the meeting? Please confirm if this is the case and whether this should be the case?

If of interest, I have various emails which can be shared with regards to the time lag of placing the BRF papers online.

  1. Is all the information that is available being shared?

The meeting of this Committee on 14th September 2017 makes no reference to the letter dated 1st August 2017 sent by MP Justine Greening to Alok Sharma, MP for Department for Communities and Local Government, which raises the question about funding for retro-fitting water sprinklers and removal of cladding. The letter seems to have been sent on behalf of Wandsworth Council? MP Sharma responded on 3rd September 2017, which states that when Councils have an idea of what work is deemed essential that the starting position is that they should fund these measures. Perhaps more detail regarding the discussions concerning potential Government funding should be provided?

Given Papers 17-269 and 18-12 have been referred to above a few times, they have been added below for reference.

17-269 –https://democracy.wandsworth.gov.uk/documents/s52192/Update%20on%20fire%20safety%20arrangements%20in%20Wandsworth%20Councils%20housing%20stock.pdf

18-12 –

https://democracy.wandsworth.gov.uk/documents/s55013/Fire%20Safety%20Update.pdf

There may have been more points to add, and more may be added in due course, though it is hoped that the above provides some feedback which is of benefit.

_________________________________________

Please note that all information is provided on a best efforts basis and that readers should make their own efforts to review and assess the provided content.

Contact

Email us at – roeregeneration@yahoo.com – and let us know of any concerns/thoughts you may have or add a comment at the end of the blog entry in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section.

To receive blog articles as they are uploaded please ‘follow’ the blog.

Or email your Roehampton and Putney Heath Councillors at;

 Or email your local Member of Parliament at;

For a different view of Roehampton, especially the Alton Estate

Roehampton Partnership (21 November 2017) – comments from the gallery

This meeting of the Roehampton Partnership (RP) was rather underwhelming according to one attendee’s view. The following comments relate to that attendee’s view and obviously others that attended may have a different view of the following contents.

  1. Apologies for absence

There were many attendees that were absent, including the Chair and Vice Chair, and Councillor Mrs Steffi Sutters was the Chair for this evening. There were at least nine absences plus two roles which have not yet been filled.

Interesting, the representatives from University of Roehampton and University of Roehampton Student Union did not attend. This non-attendance was noticed and will be commented on later in this article though bear the following meeting dates in mind when considering this;

  • 21 September 2016 – University of Roehampton attended
  • 23 November 2016 – University of Roehampton Student Union attended
  • 15 March 2017 – University of Roehampton Student Union attended
  • 14 June 2017 – was cancelled.
  • 26 September 2017 – neither attended.
  • 21 November 2017 – neither attended.
  • 14 March 2018 – date of next meeting

In other words, if the University of Roehampton attends the meeting of 14 March 2018 that would be almost one and a half years between attending meetings, and one year for the University of Roehampton Student Union.

  1. Declarations of Interest

There was none.

  1. Minutes – 26th September 2017

Hersham Close Residents Association (HCRA) mentioned the following regarding;

  • Matters Arising – the follow up to be provided by Ibstock School was not given though the HCRA asked for this after the meeting.
  • Alton Area Regeneration – it was their suggestion to have Paper 17-268 included within the meeting which was taken up by the Chair.
  • Future Agenda Items – there was no mention of the request to include the retro-fitting of water sprinklers within tall buildings and that this was declined by the Chair.
  1. Alton Area Regeneration

There was quite a bit mentioned under this section.

The Redrow PR team, Communications Potential, apologised that Redrow could not attend due to some reason or other. Interestingly, Redrow did not appear at the Western Area Housing Panel (WAHP) of the 4 December 2017 either due to conflicting schedules. Given Redrow are about to begin work on a major regeneration in the area one might think more effort by Redrow to appear at such meetings may not too much to ask. The PR team provided some information regarding how many people attended the recent exhibitions and the feedback from them.

HCRA raised the issue that not all residents were aware that the Bessborough Road Consultation was held on 15 November 2017. It turns out that Councillors Peter Carpenter and Jeremy Ambache were not aware either of the event though Councillor Sur McKinney commented she was aware. HCRA asked whether this consultation would be presented at the RP and the silence appeared to indicate this was not going to happen.

HCRA also mentioned that various related regeneration items should be raised at the RP and were currently not, these being the Bessborough Road Consultation, Council Papers such as 17-268, and the Environmental Impact Assessment. A Council representative highlighted that we could comment on the planning application, which seemed to defeat the purpose of this advisory group and might be a bit late in terms of providing any feedback?

Councillor Ambache suggested that all regeneration documents should come to the RP first before going to the various Council Committees though this did not garner much support, even from Councillors Carpenter and McKinney. One might argue that this makes sense given the RP’s role?

  1. Public Health Regeneration

There was a short presentation though it seems as though there has not really been any substantial move forward on this topic or ‘social regeneration’.

The HCRA suggested that it might be worthwhile reaching out to Wandsworth Voluntary Sector Co-oridnation Project Manager who provides regular useful updates on grants and health initiatives. To which the presenter commented that she was to meet with this team the following week. The HCRA also suggested that it might be worthwhile having a Roehampton based such distribution, accepting that not all residents on the Alton estate have internet access, though this might be useful.

  1. Transport for London (TfL)

TfL did not attend.

  1. Future Agenda Items

None were mentioned.

  1. Future Meeting Dates

HCRA asked if there was a reason for five meetings dates next year when there are usually four. A person from the Council mentioned that one could always be removed. HCRA followed up with an ask about whether these dates linked in with events next year as this may have been the case for the extra date. The answer from the Council person was that there was likely an error in producing the dates.

The Roehampton Forum member asked if any of these meetings could be held at the University of Roehampton as then it might attend a meeting.

Please note that all information is provided on a best efforts basis and that readers should make their own efforts to review and assess the provided content.

Contact

Email us at – roeregeneration@yahoo.com – and let us know of any concerns/thoughts you may have or add a comment at the end of the blog entry in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section.

Or email your Roehampton and Putney Heath Councillors at;

Or email your local Member of Parliament at;

For a different view of Roehampton, especially the Alton Estate

Is this timescale acceptable for maintenance on the Alton Estate?

At the end of July 2017, the Hersham Close Residents Association (HCRA) reported what appeared to be burn marks at the entrance of the 73-95 Hersham Close. It looked as though people were putting cigarettes out on the entrance way.

The HCRA raised this on an ongoing basis to have this vandalism repaired though it took some chasing. The HCRA mentioned the need for repairs at the Western Area Housing Panel (WAHP) of 11 September, then again at the WAHP meeting of 4 December 2017. At the December meeting the Council representative thought the job had been completed and even after the meeting this needed to be chased by the HCRA for progress, before finally being completed at the end of December.

This was the second repair in the area which took some months to be completed, much like the Hersham Close water fall that was recently highlighted.

The photos below highlight the before and after pictures with red squares being, on best efforts basis, were the damage was and where it was painted over.

Before

After

Before

After

Please note that all information is provided on a best efforts basis and that readers should make their own efforts to review and assess the provided content.

Contact

Email us at – roeregeneration@yahoo.com – and let us know of any concerns/thoughts you may have or add a comment at the end of the blog entry in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section.

Or email your Roehampton and Putney Heath Councillors at;

Or email your local Member of Parliament at;

For a different view of Roehampton, especially the Alton Estate

Temple in grounds of Mount Clare, Minstead Gardens

Off the back of the article ‘Wandsworth (Conservation Area) Advisory Committee (9 January 2018)’ there were a couple of requests to add a photo of the Temple to the blog. A generous photographer from the Alton West part of the estate provided a picture, which is provided below. This picture was taken roughly in November 2014, note that even then this Grade II* monument was boarded up. In the photo you can see in the background the DARA Focus Hall.

 

Perhaps what is a little surprising is how long it has taken to start placing this monument on the radar for some needed attention. At the Putney Society organised event ‘Roehampton University and how it relates to the local community’ on 24 September 2015 the Temple was asked about and there was a mention of the Temple being Heritage at risk and that there had been some vandalism to it.

Please note that all information is provided on a best efforts basis and that readers should make their own efforts to review and assess the provided content.

Contact

Email us at – roeregeneration@yahoo.com – and let us know of any concerns/thoughts you may have or add a comment at the end of the blog entry in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section.

Or email your Roehampton and Putney Heath Councillors at;

 Or email your local Member of Parliament at;

For a different view of Roehampton, especially the Alton Estate

 

What became of the portacabin planning application?

For background on Roehampton University’s portacabin planning applications this can be found in previous articles within this blog under variance references such as ‘portacabins’, ‘2016/1385’ or ‘2016/5912’. Many people have asked about this planning application, for various reasons whether it be what happened or how did it not go to the Council’s Planning Application Committee (PAC), and this blog is to highlight some further background which might be of interest, not just for this application, though perhaps for others.

There were three retrospective planning applications, with the first two being withdrawn.

Application number: 2015/5648

Proposal: Erection of six portacabins for a temporary period of five years.

First Council document mentioned is on 14 October 2015 and the decision notice of 19 February states this application was withdrawn on 14 February 2016.

The portacabins in question are highlighted in the photo below taken from Kimpton House. Keep an eye on the portacabins in the red rectangle. Parkstead House (Grade I listed) is in the background.

Application number: 2016/1385

Proposal: Retention of seven portacabins sited against the southern boundary for a period of three years (affecting the setting of a Grade I listed building).

Decision: Withdrawn

Notice the retention change in the proposal from five years to three years, though the number of portacabins increased from six to seven?

This application was started on 15 March 2016, only a month after application 2015/5648, though was able to continue until December 2016. At this stage, this retrospective planning application had been in motion for a year with two withdrawn applications. There were a lot of objections which were lodged against this withdrawn planning application meaning that objectors had to start again with the next planning application.

Application number: 2016/5912

Proposal: Retention of three portacabins at the southern end of the site for use as additional teaching space for a further 3 years (Affecting the setting of a Grade I listed building).

Application Registered: 14 November 2016, though documents started to be uploaded on 11 October 2016

Decision: Approve with Conditions 14 February 2017

Again, there were a lot of objections, though have you noticed two further amendments.

The retention is now for three cabins instead of seven. Also, the date of approval is 28 months after the first document was uploaded (15 October 2015) with the first planning application (2015/5648).

The following photo, also taken from Kimpton House, highlights the now removed portacabins.

Didn’t Councillor Carpenter suggest he was going to provide resident representations at the Council’s Planning Application Committee (PAC)?

Yes, this was stated at the Roehampton Forum, yet didn’t happen. It has been suggested that Councillor Carpenter may not have been aware of the Council’s delegated power which permits planning application to be agreed by the Council’s planners rather than the PAC. This application was approved as it was less than 500 square metres of non-residential floor space. If this is true, one hopes that Councillor Carpenter is aware of the delegated powers now that he is on the PAC?

Another suggestion was that maybe Councillor Carpenter did not make his views known to the PAC that he wished to make representations at the PAC regarding this planning application. If this is true, then could Councillor Ambache, who was on the PAC at the time, could have informed Councillor Carpenter to make his representation position known to PAC members?

At the Let’s Talk event of 12th September 2016 wasn’t the portacabin planning discussed?

Yes, it was, and the following is taken from the Minutes;

“4. Roehampton University

Question/Comment – A resident said that he had contacted the planning service, without response, about the portacabins that had been erected without planning permission in the car park at Roehampton University facing Kimpton House. He said that the portacabins had been in place over 4 years and reduced on-site parking provision at the University that had been pushed out onto already busy roads such as Holybourne Avenue and Fontley Way. He suggested a survey by the University about staff and student parking during term and non-term time to determine the impact of the portacabins and said that residents were being forced into accepting a CPZ because of University demands. Concern also raised that the University is ‘getting away’ with not following due process and who is auditing the process? A resident raised the issue of excessive noise emanating from the University portacabins that affected Kimpton House and ‘terrified’ some residents.

Response – It was noted that an earlier planning application had been withdrawn but a revised one was due to be submitted including a transport assessment. A planning enforcement notice was still valid in respect of the unauthorised structures. Councillor Carpenter said that the University claimed that the portacabins did not reduce parking as the car park had been repainted to provide the same number of spaces as previously. He again advised residents to come along to the councillors surgeries to speak about any problems and if possible to attend the Roehampton Forum and Roehampton Partnership meetings. Councillor Ambache told the meeting that breaches of planning control should be reported to the planning service at the Town Hall and that, as a member of the Planning Applications Committee that would consider any application, he would not be able to ‘take a position’ on the matter but was listening to the related dialogue. He also confirmed that he was available to be contacted on any of the issues raised and this could be done in a variety of ways.

Councillor McKinney said that she understood the portacabin area to be the psychology department.

 With the consent of the meeting, Rev. McKinney then spoke as a governor of Whitelands College to inform the meeting that some concerns had been expressed at the Roehampton Forum. He said that he would raise the issue of the noise with the college and also that as far as he was aware the portacabins would be removed as the need for them had now reduced”.

Note that there is a comment in the Let’s Talk Minutes which states that the “portacabins would be removed as the need for them had now reduced”?

What does this application and Ibstock School’s planning application (2015/5074) have in common?

Both applications have taken at least two years to work their way through the planning system before being approved, though were being utilized by the applicants to some extent. As this is typed, Ibstock School’s planning application was registered on 22 September 2015 and is yet to be approved.

Three attempts for one planning application, maybe something to think about for 66 Alton Road?

With so many objections to the second application having to be repeated for the third application, is this a lesson as to the fate that 66 Alton Road (planning application 2017/3082) may face? Residents and interested parties may need to be vigilant in keeping an eye out for further attempts to demolish this building.

Please note that all information is provided on a best efforts basis and that readers should make their own efforts to review and assess the provided content.

 Contact

Email us at – roeregeneration@yahoo.com – and let us know of any concerns/thoughts you may have or add a comment at the end of the blog entry in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section.

Or email your Roehampton and Putney Heath Councillors at;

 Or email your local Member of Parliament at;

For a different view of Roehampton, especially the Alton Estate

 

Alton Estate resident living in an 11 storey block has some thoughts on retro-fitting water sprinklers

The following article has been written by Joe Cairns, a resident leaseholder in an 11 storey block on the Alton Estate. This resident also spoke against the imposed view of Wandsworth Borough Council at the Housing and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 14 September 2017. Have a read and leave a comment.

“Sprinklers in tower blocks – Does Roehampton need them?

On 23 June Wandsworth Council announced that in response to the Grenfell disaster they would be installing sprinkler systems in all Council owned tower blocks of 10 or more storeys.  The Council has set aside £30 million from the Housing Revenue reserve account to pay for works to tenanted flats.  Tenants would not be getting a bill, though the cost would be recovered over time through the rent.  Leaseholders would each be expected to pay between £3,500 and £4,000 for works to their flats.  Sprinklers would be installed inside each flat, not in the communal areas, and a sprinkler head and connecting pipe work be fitted to the ceiling of each kitchen, lounge and bedroom.

The announcement was surprising for several reasons.

  1. The Council are NOT saying that the blocks are unsafe. Quite the contrary they state that:
    ‘… we do not believe that there is any specific risk to any of our high rise properties …’.  Furthermore, they have not changed the fire advice in blocks regarding action in the event of a fire.  Residents are advised to stay put and not evacuate thus indicating that the Council believes that any fire will not spread from the flat it occurs in.
  2. The Fire Risk Assessments recently performed by both the Council and by independent surveyors show the blocks to be safe and NOT requiring sprinklers.
  3. The Fire Brigade are NOT saying that the blocks are unsafe.
  4. Central Government DO NOT consider sprinklers essential. Alok Sharma, Housing Minister in turning down Nottingham City Council’s request for sprinkler funding replied that: ‘the fire safety measures you outline are additional rather than essential.’
  5. Roehampton tower blocks are very different to Grenfell. None suffer from the defect – combustible cladding – that carried the fire around the block thus turning a flat fire into block fire.
  6. Roehampton tower blocks are only 11 storeys high, not 24, and often have two protected escape, stairwells, Grenfell had only one. Thus, evacuation is quicker and rescue from the outside is possible.

So why are the Council proposing this?  They say it is because despite the absence of any ‘specific risk’ they are ‘ … not prepared to take a chance.’  But if there is no specific risk then they are not taking a chance.  Their logic is defective here.  They also say that they are doing this to reassure residents.  Well, will installing an unnecessary, expensive, ugly pipework and sprinkler system inside flats, that may make them unsealeable, provide reassurance?  I think not.  What is required here is information about the existing safety of the blocks.  The blocks have been considered safe by both the Council and the Fire Brigade for some 60 years now.  Nothing that happened at Grenfell has changed that.  The Council have made a knee-jerk reaction to a terrible tragedy and are in danger of squandering a substantial amount of money, money that could be put to better use elsewhere.  This bad decision must be overturned.

Joe Cairns

14/12/17”

Contact

Email us at – roeregeneration@yahoo.com – and let us know of any concerns/thoughts you may have or add a comment at the end of the blog entry in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section.

For a different view of Roehampton, especially the Alton Estate

Or email your Roehampton and Putney Heath Councillors at;