Freedom of information requests

The tests to external cladding and the evacuation of the Chalcots Estate has led to a very large number of FOI requests. These are about tower blocks, fire safety and related issues.  

Due to the volume of requests and their overlapping nature, we have provided a combined response to all questions asked. You can find the document detailing these responses here, or read the detail below. 

Information Regarding Tower Blocks 

Camden owns 33,000 tenanted and leasehold dwellings.  Of these, just under 3000 buildings require Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs).  

Types of properties requiring a FRA

 Type  Blocks requiring FRA
 Hostels and temporary housing  20
 Sheltered housing for older people  25
 High-rise general needs housing above 10 storeys  44
 Purpose built general needs housing  816
 Street properties  2032
 Total  2937

A list of buildings taller than 6 floors, the address, the date of last FRA and date of last external works is at the end of this document.  

We do not hold information about household sizes for individual flats.  We do not have information about the exact number of residents in any particular block or part of a block. The tenants and leaseholders have considerable freedom as to who stays with them at any one time and their household composition generally.

Cladding on Tower Blocks 

Council owned tower blocks with a cladding system

 Area / Estate Blocks   Comments  Installer
Ampthill Square Gillfoot, Dalehead, Oxenholme Solid aluminium rain-screen cladding system Brenta A.B. Construction Ltd
Chalcots Estate Blashford, Bray, Dorney, Taplow, Burnham Reynobond PE Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) rain-screen cladding system PFI Company
Abbey Area Snowman, Casterbridge, Mary Green Tower External wall insulated render Apollo (Mary Green), Snowman and Casterbridge (Buxtons)
Gospel Oak Bacton Tower, Denton Tower External wall insulated render Apollo (Bacton), Lakehouse (Denton)

Types of Cladding including Reynobond PE and fire ratings

  • Of the Council’s high-rise blocks, eight have rain-screen cladding systems and five have been clad with external wall insulation. 
  • There are 5 residential blocks owned by Camden Council which have Aluminium Composite Material (Reynobond PE) cladding panels fitted.  These are Bray, Blashford, Durnham, Dorney and Taplow.  They are all tower blocks on the Chalcots estate.
  • The rain-screen cladding  at Chalcots  underwent testing at the Building Research Establishment which classified the panels on Bray, Blashford, Durnham, Dorney and Taplow (all tower blocks on the Chalcots estate) as category 3. The categories are below:
    • Category 1 means that the result is in line with the requirements for a material of limited combustibility 
    • Category 2 means that the result does not achieve the requirements of category 1 but that it does have some limited flame retardant properties. 
    • Category 3 means that the result does not achieve the requirements of category 1 or 2 and that it has no flame retardant properties.  
  • The PFI Company and their subcontractors were responsible for the cladding work at the Chalcots estate and Brenta Construction Ltd. were responsible for the cladding work on the Ampthill estate
  • The BRE is now undertaking a revised test which looks at the whole cladding system not just the rain-screen panels, The material behind the rain screen panels at the Chalcots estate is Rockwool which is non-combustible.
  • The LFB required residents to be evacuated from four of the Chalcots blocks while works were done to communal areas and front doors to improve compartmentation and fire stopping. Blashford residents were able to remain as the lobbies are configured differently with four flats per floor as opposed to seven, the central stair core is also different and fully ventilated; these features present a different risk profile.
  • All planning applications including those involving cladding can be found on-line at https://www.gov.uk/search-register-planning-decisions
  • Information about any cladding system originally proposed but subsequently removed from any bids and information about the final cladding system and specification to be used in the bid are both  refused because the council considers that to answer the individual requests will take over 18 hours.  
    Section 12 refusal notice. The council is refusing both of these requests under section 12 Freedom of Information Act because to comply with the requests would exceed the ‘appropriate limit’, which is the equivalent of 18 hours work.   This is due to the extremely large number of files and records involved and the systems the council uses to record information do not record all this information in an easily retrievable way.  Individual files, records and email accounts will need to be examined to find the information requested.  There are 150 boxes of files and documents relating to the procurement for these issues and the information requested will be within these boxes.  The contents are not structured in a way that would allow easy searching to find the requested information.  The council estimates that this will take several hundred hours.  Due to the nature of the questions, the wide date ranges and the large number of buildings it is difficult provide advice and assistance to requesters to enable them to reframe a request to come within the s12 limit.  Requesters are advised to contact the FOI team at FOI@camden.gov.uk to discuss making any revised requests.
  • The Leader of the Council has made a public commitment to publish the most recent Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) for blocks above 10 storeys in the interests of resident safety and transparency. The Chalcots FRAs have already been published and the remaining FRAs for blocks above 10 storeys will be published during July and August. Copies of the FRAs are being posted on the Council’s website. The council intended to publish a range of relevant material to its website, including this information, before the FOI requests were received.  Therefore it is applying section 22 to this information.  
    Section 22 refusal notice – information intended for future publication.  This exemption applies when the council intends to publish the information requested and it is reasonable in the circumstances for release to wait until publication.   Both apply in this case.  This is a qualified exemption so the council must undertake a public interest test, where the public interest in withholding the information is balanced against the public interest in releasing it.  The public interest is what furthers the public good, rather than what the public are necessarily interested in.
    • The public interests in favour of immediate release are:
      • Widespread public concern about fire safety in tower blocks
      • The council’s commitment to openness and transparency
      • Ability to hold the council to account for its actions
    • The public interests in favour of withholding are:
      • The publication will be within weeks so there is little delay
      • There is public interest in all relevant information being released in a planned coordinated way 
      • There is public interest in all relevant information being placed in a centralised source allowing easy access
      • The council has a planned publication and there is public interests in following this
    • The council considers that the balance of public interest lies in maintaining the exemption and withholding the information until it is published on our website as planned.

A list of all building control inspections carried out at Taplow, Burnham, Bray, Dorney and Blashford tower blocks from April 2006 

A copy of all building control inspection reports carried at Taplow, Burnham, Bray, Dorney and Blashford tower blocks from April 2006.  

Section 12 refusal notice. The council is refusing this request under section 12 Freedom of Information Act because to comply with the request would exceed the ‘appropriate limit’, which is the equivalent of 18 hours work.   This is due to the extremely large number of files and records involved and the systems the council uses to record information do not record all this information in an easily retrievable way.  Individual files, records and email accounts will need to be examined to find the information requested.  The contents are not structured in a way that would allow easy searching to find the requested information.  The council estimates that this will take approx. 50 hours.  Due to the nature of the questions, the wide date ranges and the large number of buildings it is difficult provide advice and assistance to requesters to enable them to reframe a request to come within the s12 limit. Requesters are advised to contact the FOI team at FOI@camden.gov.uk to discuss making any revised requests.

Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs)

  • The ‘Responsible Person’ under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is the Chief Executive of Camden.
  • Fire Risk Assessments are a statutory requirement. They include an action plan which sets out what the Council should do to reduce the fire risk. Things to bear in mind when reading FRAs are:
    • They provide a snapshot of fire safety at the point in time at which they were carried out. 
    • The contents of the resulting action plan vary considerably as do the timescales which the report specifies for the completion of those works. 
    • Often the most urgent actions involve the removal of fire hazards in communal areas which would immediately reduce the fire risk. 
    • Any works to the fabric of the building such as fire doors or fire stopping between flats inevitably take longer to complete and a longer time is specified in the FRA. The Council seeks the advice of the London Fire Brigade on prioritisation and programmes these into planned maintenance. 
  • Standard industry practice to date has been to carry out FRAs on the communal areas of blocks only. As such they only provide a partial picture of the fire safety of a building and have not covered the cladding and the interiors of individual flats. 
  • The Council periodically commissions fire risk assessments from specialist consultants with targeted surveys, remedial works or progress checks overseen by the Fire Safety Contract Managers in the Property Management Division.  
  • The FRAs re the Chalcots have been published on our website and the remaining FRAs will be published there on a planned basis over the next few weeks.  On 3 July, the Leader of the Council, Georgia Gould, made a public commitment to publish the most recent Fire Risk Assessments for all blocks above 10 storeys in the interests of resident safety and transparency. The first tranche, covering the five Chalcots blocks, have now been published and can be viewed here
  • The rest will be published on this site in a planned way during July and August.

    • Section 21 refusal notice – information publicly available.  The information already published on our website is readily accessible and so is exempt under section 21.
    • Section 22 refusal notice – information intended for future publication.  This exemption applies when the council intends to publish the information requested and it is reasonable in the circumstances for release to wait until publication.   Both apply in this case.  This is a qualified exemption so the council must undertake a public interest test, where the public interest in withholding the information is balanced against the public interest in releasing it.  The public interest is what furthers the public good, rather than what the public are necessarily interested in.
    • The public interests in favour of immediate release are:
      • Widespread public concern about fire safety in tower blocks
      • The council’s commitment to openness and transparency
      • Ability to hold the council to account for its actions
    • The public interests in favour of withholding are:
      • The publication will be within weeks so there is little delay
      • There is public interest in all relevant information being released in a planned coordinated way 
      • There is public interest in all relevant information being placed in a centralised source allowing easy access
      • The council has a planned publication and there is public interests in following this
    • The council considers that the balance of public interest lies in maintaining the exemption and withholding the information until it is published on our website as planned.
  • FRAs are technical documents so we have produced a set of Frequently Asked Questions to help the reader to interpret them. Each individual FRA is prefaced with a summary and any subsequent actions the Council has taken in response.
  • When reading the FRAs, it is important to note that these reflect historic practice.  
  • Camden’s new practice is detailed below:  
    • The Council will be appointing a new Director for Resident Safety. 
    • A new wave of enhanced fire safety checks (over and above the current statutory requirement and beyond current best practice) on every block in Camden will be undertaken. These will be thorough and their scope will be clear. The reports will be published so the process is transparent to our residents.
    • We will set up a borough wide resident safety-working group led by tenants and leaseholders to oversee these processes.
    • Advise and provide training opportunities for tenants in every block in Camden on fire safety
  • Every Camden Council owned block will receive an enhanced fire safety check to ensure the safety of residents. Following Grenfell and the discovery of a range of safety concerns in tower blocks in Camden and across the UK, we have ordered a new regime of testing for our tower blocks.  Our new approach will test housing blocks and then results will be published for residents to see to ensure full transparency. Test results and progress on works will also be scrutinised by tenants, leaseholders and the Council's housing scrutiny committee.
  • We are keeping our news page camden.gov.uk/news and Twitter feed @camdentalking updated with the latest information.
  • The date of the next FRA can be calculated by looking at the date of the last FRA (in the table at the end of this document) and the frequency of FRA from the table below.
  • From April 2017 a new regime based on the rating of a FRA will be as here: Download: Frequency of FRAs (PDF) 
  • There are no tower block FRAs currently outstanding
  • Due to the way we record information and our costs are calculated we cannot separate out the spend on fire risk assessments from other spend on fire safety work
  • From 2007 to present the council has used these companies to carry out FRAs: Monofire;Hoare Lea Fire Engineering; Euro Compliance; Frankham Consultancy Group; Savills Consulting Group; Watts Consulting Group

Fire Safety

  • Camden Council is accelerating and prioritising the fire safety improvement works arising from its fire risk assessments.  Please see the details above about what is on our website and what is being published in the coming weeks.  
  • HHSRS (Housing Health and Safety Ratings System) ratings are carried out in flats where required so we do not hold assessments for blocks.  HHSRS are designed for dwelling units and not for common areas of flats etc.
  • All buildings have at least one designated fire exit. Camden does not hold information on the number of designated fire exits for buildings. 
  • The council’s emergency plan is available on our website www.camden.gov.uk/ccm/content/policing-and-public-safety/emergencies/emergency-planning-in-camden/
  • Section 21 refusal notice – information publicly available.  The information already published on our website is readily accessible and so is exempt under section 21.
  • No tower block providing Council housing has a sprinkler system or a central alarm system
  • The number of fire checks that have been taken and the number of complaints received about health and safety in high-rise buildings are both refused because the council considers that to answers the individual requests will take over 18 hours.  
  • Section 12 refusal notice.  The council is refusing both of these requests under section 12 Freedom of Information Act because to comply with the requests would exceed the ‘appropriate limit’, which is the equivalent of 18 hours work.   This is due to the extremely large number of files and records involved and the systems the council uses to record information do not record all this information in an easily retrievable way.  Individual files, records and email accounts will need to be examined to find the information requested.  The council estimates that this will take several hundred hours.  Due to the nature of the questions, the wide date ranges and the large number of buildings it is difficult provide advice and assistance to requesters to enable them to reframe a request to come within the s12 limit.  Requesters are advised to contact the FOI team at FOI@camden.gov.uk to discuss making any revised requests.

Investment/Costs

  • The Council has dedicated capital programme budgets to improve the fire safety across Camden’s housing stock. These budgets are summarised below. 
Actual to 31 March 2016 £000s 2016/17 £000s  2017/18 £000s 2018/19 £000s 2019/20 £000s 
Targeted FRA capital works 5,201 2,110 4,391  6,777  2,405


  • In addition to the above, Better Homes schemes often incorporate fire safety measures, such as the replacement of front entrance doors or the redecoration of communal areas with “Class O” paint. Across Better Homes schemes that are currently being mobilised this additional investment is valued at £6.4m.
  • The Council has spent around £90m over the last 7 years on external Better Homes work.
  • There have been a total of approx. 3000 households from the Chalcots estate housed in temporary accommodation since the 23rd June, we do not yet have the costs of this operation for temporary rehousing as the operation is still ongoing.  The council does not hold information about how many people opted to stay with family or friends. 
  • The Council is not hosting persons who were made homeless by the Grenfell tower block fire.  The council does not have anyone made homeless from tower blocks judged unfit for habitation as of 26th June because no one was made homeless by the temporary evacuation of the Chalcots.  Residents were temporarily rehoused from their properties whilst urgent works were undertaken before they moved back into their properties.  Therefore there are no spend commitments regarding this. 
  • There were around 170 fire wardens on duty at any one time across the Chalcots estate.  As the operation is not yet complete, the council does not have information about the costs of this. 
  • The Council has not committed to any specific amount of spend for cladding removal and replacement pending receipt of proposals from contractors on potential approaches to undertake this work
  • The Council has not committed to any specific amount of spend on sprinkler systems pending an outcome of a review of fire safety across the Council's housing estate. The Council is intending to install a misting system at Denton Tower as part of a pilot with the London Fire Brigade.

Partners For Improvement for Camden (PFIC)/ Arm’s Length Management Organisations

No Council buildings are managed by Housing Associations or Arm’s Length Management Organisations except the Chalcots estate.  The Chalcots estate is managed by Partners For Improvement for Camden (PFIC) under a Private Finance Initiative agreement. PFIC used Rydons to undertake some of the refurbishment work and are using Rydons to undertake some of the operational maintenance at that site.  Camden Council does not have a maintenance contract with Rydons and so hold no information about the costs of maintenance. 

Copies of Correspondence

The council has received a large number of requests asking for correspondence including emails, minutes and agenda of meetings, concerning a variety of subjects surrounding tower blocks, fire safety, cladding etc, covering a variety of date ranges.    
The council considers that to answer the individual requests will take over 18 hours.  
Section 12 refusal notice.  Therefore the council is refusing all the requests for correspondence under section 12 Freedom of Information Act because to comply with the requests would exceed the ‘appropriate limit’ which is the equivalent of 18 hours work.   
This is due to the extremely large number of files and records involved and the systems the council uses to record information do not record all this information in an easily retrievable way.  In many cases, individual files and records will need to be examined to find the information requested.  The council estimates that this will take several hundred hours.  Due to the nature of the questions, the wide date ranges and the large number of buildings it is difficult provide advice and assistance to requesters to enable them to reframe a request to come within the s12 limit.  Requesters are advised to contact the FOI team at FOI@camden.gov.uk to discuss making any revised requests.  

Lists

Council Refurbishment Contractors


Refurbishment Contractors
 Acre Lifts Ltd
 AD Construction Group 
 Apex lifts & Escalator Engineers Limited
 BTU (Installation & Maintenance) Limited
 Foster Property Maintenance
 G&D Higgins Mechanical Services Ltd
 Invicta Building Sevices Ltd
 K&T Heating Services Ltd
 Keepmoat
 Lakehouse Contracts Ltd
 Lift & Engineering Services Limited
 Liftec Lifts Limited
 Mitie Property Services (UK) Ltd
 Morgan Sindall Property Services
 Mulalley and Company Limited
 OpenView Security Solutions Limited
 Purdy Contracts Limited
 Re-Gen Uk a Division of Roseville Projects
 Rydon Maintenance Limited
 United Living (South) Limited
 Vinci Construction UK Ltd
 W G Wigginton Limited
 Wates Living Space

    Fire incidents

    Number of fire related incidents recorded in Emergency Management database

     2008  16
     2009  11
     2010  10
     2011  6
     2012  7
     2013  4
     2014  10
     2015  8
     2016  3
     2017  0

    Buildings with 6 or more floors

    (CONS) means consecutive numbering. For example, 1-80 (CONS) means all the property numbers between 1 and 80 are included.  

    Date of last external works is the date recorded following a search of records of the external works programme.  This does not indicate that cladding was installed on that date because external works can include many areas such as routine repairs and maintenance, upgradings etc.  These include scaffolding, asbestos survey and removal, works to roofs, windows and communal areas; and external repairs such as block paving, boundary walls and energy efficiency works.  

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