“We need to get on with it” was the refrain from Camden Council’s planning committee as it approved new plans for replacement cladding and windows to be fitted on the towers of the Chalcots Estate.
Councillors unanimously approved the new designs, but some raised concerns about the level of consultation with residents on the estate.
Cllr Oliver Cooper questioned the support for the scheme among residents, while Belsize ward councillor Steve Adams (Con) criticised consultation documents provided to residents of the Swiss Cottage estate, saying they had been “poorly served” during the process.
Cllr Adams added: “They’ve been faced now with an application which we all accept must be approved but it contains old, incorrect and ill-defined information.”
The scheme will see the cladding which was removed from the towers in 2017 – when Camden identified it as a fire risk in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire – replaced with solid aluminium panels.
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New “tilt and turn” windows will also be installed in the flats, and a “monorail” will be installed on the roof of each block to aid maintenance.
The town hall has committed to an “A1” standard of fire protection, on the project. It is currently undergoing a re-procurement process – after ditching its previous contractor.
People living in the blocks have previously criticised the town hall’s communication and urgency.
Matt Briant, from planning consultancy Quod, which was working on behalf of the council’s development team, said: “Obviously the main driver here is the safety of the residents.”
He added that the windows had “been subject to a lot of consultation”, saying: “The fact there was only one objection received from only 700 residents and leaseholders and neighbours demonstrates the power of the positive public engagement that’s been undertaken over this time, and demonstrates that the proposals are not only acceptable but have been welcomed.”
At the meeting, councillors including West Hampstead’s Cllr Flick Rea (Lib Dem) emphasised the need for the “long-delayed” project to move forward.
“My impression is that most of these residents just want us to get on with it, so my question is simply how quickly can work start?”
Camden’s project officer Astrid Kjellberg-Obst told the meeting the current aim was to start work on recladding the blocks in November 2021.
In response, Cllr Rea said: “Not before time.”