13 Nov update: We have contacted residents in Merle Court directly with an update on the fire safety policy at the block – if you are a resident who did not receive our letter please contact us on 0300 456 2099.
Following an article published on the BBC website on 24 October 2017, we would like to reiterate that the safety and wellbeing of our residents is of utmost importance to us at Catalyst.
Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, we began an additional thorough review of all our properties. This review included inspecting the materials, the current Fire Risk Assessments (FRA) and management processes for all blocks, starting with our properties that are six or more storeys tall before then going on to five storey buildings, then four storeys, and so on.
This initial review covering our six storey blocks included Merle Court, which was specifically referred to in the BBC article. We communicated the results of the review to residents there in two letters sent in July and August.
Whilst we initially incorrectly reported that the cladding on Merle Court was ‘Fundermax’ external cladding, we corrected our error in the follow-up letter sent in early August, where we stated that the building did indeed have ACM Cladding that had failed the BRE testing. We also communicated this information to Brent Council.
Since then, we have had Merle Court inspected by an independent fire safety engineer and the local fire authority – both experts concluded that the building is safe and compliant with building regulations and that there was no change to the fire strategy or any of the measures we have in place to keep residents safe at Merle Court. The up-to-date Fire Risk Assessment was carried out on 2 August 2017.
We have also updated signage within the communal areas of Merle Court to ensure that residents are aware of the building’s fire strategy, as well as publishing fire safety information on our website, through our social media channels and in our customer magazine.
Having sought expert advice that the building is safe, we have no immediate plans to remove the current cladding panels. We are also seeking advice from either the Department for Communities and Local Government or from the Building Research Establishment.
Once we have received official guidance on what is an appropriate and compliant replacement, we can then make a final decision on whether or not to remove and replace the cladding. If we were to remove the cladding without a suitable replacement, we would risk serious damage to the building by leaving it exposed over winter.
If you have any questions, please check Ask Catalyst or give us a ring on 0300 456 2099 and we’ll be happy to help.