Block in Wembley ruled safe despite fire test failure

Elizabeth House, Wembley. Picture: LUCY CAMPBELL)

Elizabeth House, Wembley. Picture: LUCY CAMPBELL) - Credit: Archant

Hundreds of residents are being assured the building they live in is safe despite its cladding failing a safety test ordered by the government after the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Octavia Housing confirmed they will remove combustible cladding from their 13-storey Elizabeth House in Wembley High Road following what they called “shocking” results from a sample test.

But they were quick to assure residents could remain in their homes because London Fire Brigade had visited and was satisfied with other safety features such as sprinklers and smoke extraction ducts.

The company responded to government demands that all cladding be tested following the Grenfell Tower tragedy on June 14, leaving 79 confirmed deaths. Flammable cladding has been found on 95 tower blocks across 26 local authority areas, including Brent and nearby Camden.

Cladding on the high-rise, which contains 115 flats, was found to contain aluminium composite material, which is a cause currently being investigated as to why the Grenfell Tower blaze spread so quickly after a fridge caught fire.

Octavia contracted Willmott Dixon to oversee construction of the high rise building.

A spokeswoman for Octavia, said: “The high rise was completed in 2013 with a number of fire safety features including sprinklers in every flat and smoke extraction ducts.

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“The block meets building standards and so we were shocked to learn that the materials used in some of the panel cladding failed the recent testing.”

She added: “We have been given a clear instruction from the fire brigade that due to the quality of additional safety measures, the building is safe for residents to continue to reside in.

“We have assured residents that given this confirmation, cladding will not be removed immediately but we are investigating how cladding can be swiftly replaced in a proper and managed replacement programme in the near future.

A spokesman for Brent Council said all of its estates and 37 high rise blocks were safety complaint and had been visited to remove any rubbish, bicycles and hazards that could “hinder access and exit in an emergency.”

He added that of Brent’s high rises, only Watling Gardens is cladded, which was tested last week and found to be safe.

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