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Camden Council sues Rydon over cladding on Chalcots Estate

29 November 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

The Chalcots Estate (Image: Rydon)

Camden Council has made a £130m claim against the contractors involved in the refurbishment of the Chalcots Estate in London, to recover the cost of replacing Grenfell Tower-style cladding on the buildings.

The council has submitted a claim to the Technology and Construction Court to recover costs from Partners for Improvement in Camden (PFIC) and its principal subcontractors – Rydon Construction, Rydon Maintenance, Faithful + Gould and United Living South. PFIC is in liquidation.

The council said it wanted to recover the costs it has incurred as a result of addressing “multiple fire safety failings” at the estate, which led to the evacuation of its residents in June 2017.

The costs the council is claiming relate to the evacuation of Chalcots residents, the employment of fire marshals and security staff during the evacuation and beyond, its repairs to make good “inadequate internal fire stopping, inadequate fire doors and other serious defects inside the Chalcots towers” and the removal of combustible aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding from the blocks’ outer façade.

Wates is now working on remediation of the estate, while the council has appointed a director of resident safety in what it claims is a UK first and set up a resident-led fire safety panel to ensure that tenants’ voices are heard. It has also introduced enhanced fire risk assessments.

Council 'let down' by contractors

A Camden Council spokesman said: “We were let down by PFIC, Rydon and other contractors. The PFI agreement for refurbishment and maintenance of the Chalcots Estate was entered into in good faith and fundamental to this was our expectation that the Chalcots towers would be safe for our residents. We should not have been put in a position where we were left with no option but to evacuate residents from their homes on a Friday night.

“Our absolute priority is the safety of our residents so, upon discovering serious deficiencies in the work and materials used by our contractors, we stepped in with new contractors, to complete works that would allow Chalcots residents to start to return safely to their homes within four weeks and, within six months, had fully removed cladding from the towers.

“The costs of the supporting residents during the evacuation and level of work required at the Chalcots made a major impact on our reserves. Clearly, it would not be right for residents and, by extension, the public purse, to foot the bill for what has been a private contractor failure.

“In October 2018, we secured £80m from the government to fund the replacement of cladding on the Chalcots Estate. However, this only covers part of the costs and still leaves us with substantial losses that we are determined to recover.

“Today’s claims are submitted following two years’ examination of historical agreements, contractual responsibilities and works completed during the period in which we had a contractual relationship with PFIC. Following this review, we are clear about where responsibility lies for the range of fire safety defects at the Chalcots which led to the evacuation and its associated costs.”

Rydon declined to comment.

Faithful + Gould and United Living South have been contacted for comment.

Comments

It’s good to hear of public housing owners (Councils) finally seeking reimbursement of the total costs involved in addressing both the physical remediation of property plus the associated costs of managing the process and providing temporary occupant support.
It’s not just the reclaiming costs which the media seem to concentrate on!

Rick Foster, 2 December 2019

Thanks for all your questions and comments on this article. We have been in touch with DMU who have provided further details about the brick's cost and fire resistance. Details can be found here:

http://www.constructionmanagermagazine.com/news/3d-printed-plastic-waste-brick-cm-readers-question/

Neil Gerrard, 3 December 2019

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