Pepys Estate London

THE WORKS on the Pepys Estate in Deptford, London have continued despite the new lockdown, with council housing manager Lewisham Homes undertaking ‘major’ fire safety checks.

News Shopper reported on the fears of residents in the Pepys Estate amid ‘surges’ in COVID-19 cases nationwide and in the borough of Lewisham, with concerns over construction works ‘entering [residents’] homes’. Council housing management company Lewisham Homes is undertaking ‘major’ fire safety works on the estate, with workers from separate contractor firms ‘going in and out of homes’ as a result.

The company stated that fire risk assessments ‘have identified the essential elements that require works to be carried out as a matter of urgency in order to improve the fire safety of our residents and their homes’, with the ‘majority’ of the work being undertaken ‘to prevent fire and smoke from spreading between rooms, flats and communal areas’.

This work has seen contractors checking fire doors, walls, floors, ceilings and electrical and plumbing installations, all while ‘checking homes are fire safety compliant’, but as COVID-19 cases rise residents have become ‘concerned the number of construction workers coming in and out is a health risk’, with Lewisham’s case numbers having ‘surged’ in the last fortnight to more than 1,000 per 100,000 people.

One resident said his neighbour was shielding, and so cancelled the works on her home, ‘but was told she would need a valid letter from her GP or they would carry out the work anyway’. In turn, resident and community centre trustee Moria Kerrane asked why works were ‘postponed in the first lockdown but not now, when cases are soaring’.

She added that ‘there is a high density of social housing tenants and BAME tenants’ in the development, and that ‘COVID prevention is the only critical work we need here’. Other residents shared concerns over their mental health, due to anxieties around catching the virus from workers, with Lewisham Homes set to make a new announcement about the works today.

Its position at the moment however was: ‘We believe the COVID situation and lockdowns have increased the urgency of these works, not least concerning the replacement of the lateral mains, given the increased electricity demand from more residents staying in their home. We intend to continue with the works as long as we can do so within government guidelines. Our contractors have all received specific training on COVID safety.’

It is a mandatory requirement for every commercial premises to undertake fire risk assessments. Download our free fire risk assessment template for simple premises here