In Worcester Park, a block of flats built by Berkeley in South West London, burnt down in September of this year. Shockingly, however, a recent report has discovered that there are further apparent flaws found in two more buildings from the Berkeley Group.
It is claimed that flats are still at risk from useless or missing fire prevention and safety measures, leaving residents of two housing estates in danger of a catastrophic fire burning down their homes. It is thought that the flaws within these two further buildings would allow a fire to spread rapidly throughout the flats.
However, Berkeley, the developer behind the buildings, claims that all buildings have been signed off independently for health and safety. Since the blaze in September, Hamptons Estate, the housing association, has changed its evacuation policy to stay put during an emergency temporarily, following a consultation with the London Fire Brigade.
Wood is combustible, therefore the fire stopping within the timber frames of homes is crucial in order to prevent the advance of the fire. Stephen Nobrega, a former resident at Worcester Park, described how the fire spread almost instantly, and how his home went up like paper. He went on to state that it is expected that the materials within a building would be able to contain flames for a considerable amount of time. That did not happen to Worcester Park. Thankfully, there were no injuries in the blaze, but some residents believe that the building was evacuated just in time.
A number of people are concerned that their homes are unsafe after the blaze, with some families losing their homes altogether in the tragic event. The Worcester Park estate has since been under security guard patrols 24 hours a day and on high alert for any signs of further fires.
The housing association which now manages the building, MTVH (Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing), released a statement explaining that it has fitted smoke alarms within each electrical cupboard in the blocks of flats.
However, residents are still concerned about the materials that are used in the buildings, and if the block of flats should experience a fire, that they will be evacuated rather than told to stay put in their homes.
In addition to this, two independent surveyors claimed during an inspection that a large fire would likely spread rapidly at a similar building at The Hamptons site. Arnold Tarling, a fire inspector and independent chartered surveyor, discovered a large gap in the middle of the cladding and the fire stopping on the exterior of a block of flats in the estate. Mr Tarling explained that this would create a chimney, where a fire would spread rapidly, and he stated that the fire stopping would fail to do its job adequately.
A fire safety expert, Greig Adams, also stated that these breaches have severe consequences, which include a considerably high risk to life should there be a fire. Providing effective barriers to fire is a mandatory requirement in homes, and is not an element which can be shoddily completed or cut corners on.
A former homeowner at Worcester Park claimed that she had contacted Berkeley Group around nine years ago to voice her concerns over building safety. In 2005, Sheila Majid had an independent property inspection conducted on her home, which she explained revealed similar issues concerning fire stopping, which meant that her home failed to meet basic fire and safety standards.
Ms Majid managed to sell the home back to Berkeley, but continued to worry that similar problems would be found in other properties built by the Berkeley Group. For professional standard inventory reports which cover a wide range of safety and health checks for rental properties, consider software from providers such as inventoryBase.
The London-based property developer has constructed 19,500 homes across the Midlands and south of England during the last five years.
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