Lambeth orders cladding removed from converted office block

Norwich House Apartments as seen on Google Street View

Council officers have served an improvement notice on the private owner of Norwich House Apartments, requiring a list of remedial actions – including the removal of aluminium composite material (ACM), the type of cladding used at Grenfell Tower.

The block, on Streatham High Road in south London, was originally offices but has been converted into flats. It has 103 flats over six storeys, with commercial units on the ground floor. 

A council inspection in August identified “serious and significant fire safety deficiencies”, including the presence of ACM cladding shown to be the highest risk (category 3).  Inspectors also reported issues with the building’s fire safety systems, service cupboards being used to store combustible materials, an insufficiently protected seventh-storey boiler room and a malfunctioning smoke extraction system.

The Norwich House owner and its management company were alerted to the problems, and told of improvements they were expected to make, related to the CCTV system, smoke alarms and smoke extraction, and their evacuation strategy. 

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The council has now served an improvement notice on the owner of Norwich House, following consultation with the London Fire Brigade, setting out the action needed to make the building safe. The owner will need to remove the ACM cladding within a year, but the other works are required within four months.

The owner has told the council that it has appointed a firm of fire engineers, repaired the smoke extraction system and is working on the CCTV and fire alarms.  It has also informed the council that it plans to remove the cladding with financial help from the government’s ACM remediation fund.

Lambeth Council has in the past criticised the permitted development rights enabling the conversion of office units into housing, warning that, at least in some cases, they produced designs for that were unsuitable for people to live in.

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