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Wates departs Chalcots Estate after council re-tenders cladding job

27 May 2020
Wates departs Chalcots Estate after council re-tenders cladding job

Wates has started to remove equipment from the Chalcots Estate in London, where it had been working on the remediation of ACM cladding, after Camden Council decided to re-tender the work.

Wates had been in negotiations with the council to replace the cladding, windows and curtain walls at the estate and was undertaking preparation works since January 2019 under a “letter of intent”.

Its involvement came after the estate was evacuated temporarily following the Grenfell Tower disaster amid fears that the blocks were clad with dangerous ACM cladding.

Last year, it emerged that Camden Council has made a £130m claim against the contractors involved in the refurbishment of the estate 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.

Wates appeared to be lined up to remediate the estate but the council cabinet has now accepted a recommendation from council project officer Astrid Kjellberg-Obst to re-tender the work, already delayed because of covid-19.

In a letter sent to residents last month, Kjellberg-Obst explained that on 17 March, Wates submitted its final offer but the recommendation to the council cabinet was to reject it and to go back to market.

“This is because unfortunately despite many discussions, the offer Wates provided to deliver the full programme of works was not what we expected or wanted for residents. We made a commitment that we would provide a gold standard of safety, designed with residents, and our view is we can’t sign up to something that falls short of this.

“We know that the works will be significantly delayed already because of covid-19 but if cabinet agree with our recommendation and reject Wates’ current offer, the major works will be delayed for longer than the pause caused by coronavirus. Depending on the cabinet decision this could unfortunately be a delay of up 12 months while a new contract is awarded,” Kjellberg-Obst explained.

She added that the final cost of the work increased and the council project team was worried that it would continue to increase during the contract. In addition, she said the designs “aren’t what we asked for”, citing the example of Wates’ proposal to fit a bar on the kitchen windows and specifying toughened glass for all windows which it said was safe “but can shatter”. The letter also warned that the programme of works provided by Wates “is not detailed enough”.

Following the cabinet’s decision to re-tender the major works, Wates last week began removing netting from scaffolding across the estate at the Bray and Taplow towers. Removal of the netting on other blocks was expected to be complete this week. From Monday this week (25 May) Wates also started to remove or adapt wood from windows on the ground floor to let more light in.

A spokeswoman for Wates Living Space commented: “Due to ongoing contractual commitments with the Council it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time.”