London (Brussels Morning) Almost 1,000 residents at a West London multi-block development for student housing has been asked to evacuate over fire safety fears.
The concerns on the Paragon Estate first arose at the end of 2017 after the Grenfell Fire tragedy in London prompted checks on thousands of buildings across the country, particularly tall buildings. Landlords Notting Hill Genesis undertook an £8 million review to ensure the 4-17 story building — once one of the tallest modular buildings in the world (the tallest is in Croydon, England, built by Tide Construction) was compliant with fire checks.
The development, a Berkely Group subsidiary project, was found to have further problems with each safety check performed.
While further assessments are being undertaken, the students who belong primarily to the University of West London will be moved out this week and housed in alternative accommodation.
“I understand that Paragon residents may feel angry or alarmed by this news, as they have every right to be”, said Kate Davies, group chief executive of Notting Hill Genesis.
“This is a very distressing time and we are genuinely sorry for the huge amount of disruption and uncertainty that this situation will cause.
“We are doing all we can to support people who live in Paragon through this difficult situation”.
Some of the problems reportedly include faulty cavity barriers, which prevent the spread of flames.
One resident said the university owed her “a massive apology”, according to the BBC.
“We should be getting the rent back for the months we’ve been staying in an unsound building”, said another student tenant, Laura Howes.
The cladding used on the exterior of the building has also been a concern on the estate, although it is not the same as that used on the Grenfell Tower, which is alleged to be the cause of the rapid and deadly spread of the fire on 14 June 2017.
Like many other developments across England affected by unsafe cladding, the estate had a ‘waking watch’, which involved one or more people staying awake for any signs of fire and sounding the alarm if required.
Some blame the Grenfell tragedy on EU targets for energy efficiency that has brought cladding on to many buildings. However, the type of dangerous cladding used on Grenfell Tower is banned in many European countries.
Since the tower’s tragedy, which included many social housing units, the European Commission has been urged to think more about low-income housing and its issues.