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Finsbury residents are forced to move out during cladding work

Housing association apologises as flats block is emptied for months due to flammable material

17 August, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Percival Street flats

RESIDENTS at a Finsbury block of flats with flammable cladding will have to leave their homes for months while panels are replaced.

The Guinness Partnership has apologised to social housing tenants at its Percival Street flats for the disruption. They will have to move out for at least seven months.

One resident at the flats, above a community centre, said: “We’ve been told we’ve got to move out. I feel on edge living here.”

News that tenants will have to move comes as the council revealed that nine residential blocks have failed government-backed fire tests in the borough.

The housing association will be removing the ACM (aluminium composite material) cladding system, which failed government fire safety tests, from one side of the building, facing Malta Street, as well as different cladding, which did not require testing, wrap­ped around the rest of the block.

The new products have the highest possible fire safety level, a spokeswoman said. Although the building’s height meant there was no requirement for the ACM material to be removed, the housing association had chosen to do so anyway “to protect our residents”.

Asked why it had taken a year to submit a planning application, a spokeswoman said Guinness had been working with experts to identify suitable material. The building, which received planning app­roval in 2006, was understood to comply with building regulations at the time.

Since the Grenfell Tower blaze, Guinness has installed new fire alarms, more smoke detectors and provided 24-hour fire wardens. The London Fire Brigade has confirmed that the building is safe to live in.

In total, 16 households will be moved out. They have been offered the chance to move permanently, which one resident said he hoped to do.

He added: “If the alarm goes off [now] I’m going to get out quicker.”

Some residents have invested thousands of pounds on their flats. Guinness has pledged to make like-for-like replace­ments if fittings have to be removed.

A council spokeswoman said there were nine blocks, including four falling under the government’s definition of tall buildings, which the Town Hall knows have failed cladding safety tests.

Five are privately owned and three by housing associations. The only council-owned block with ACM cladding was Braithwaite House, in Finsbury, where it was removed by the council last year.

A spokeswoman for the Guinness Partnership said: “While residents are away, we will be installing new kitchens, replacing flooring and redecorating the properties.

“We have apologised for the disruption and will do everything possible to minimise the impact.”

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