Newham Council to remediate 87 high-rise residential buildings by 2029

London’s Newham Council has approved a five-year residential building safety strategy to make all its high-rises “safe and compliant with new legislation”.

Announced on 20 February 2024, the Cabinet-backed plan will see fire safety remediation carried out in all 87 of the borough’s high-rise residential blocks. Covering a period of five years, from 2024 to 2029, the fire safety fixes are expected to total £63.5 million.

The council has highlighted five key priorities as part of its fire safety strategy: 

  1. Building safety to comply with statutory obligations for occupied higher-risk buildings
  2. Resident engagement to meet the commitment to keeping residents safe through engagement and sharing building safety information with them
  3. Organisational structure to develop operational structures to deliver safe homes now and for the future
  4. Data and system to ensure those working on the council’s design and building projects and/or in its higher-risk buildings are competent to do so
  5. Policy and strategy to ensure that buildings are managed in line with legislation, regulation, and the council’s documented safety management system for building safety

April 2023 saw the Building Safety Act 2022 come into force, and as per new legislative requirements, the council has been working closely with the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) to outline plans to “improve the design, construction and management” of higher-risk buildings across the borough. It is understood that the majority of the council’s housing stock of high-rise residential buildings was built between 1945 and 1949. As such, a number of “legacy design and construction issues” exist. The council adds: “Given the age of the buildings, the availability of design and construction information is also extremely limited.”  

Following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, the council said it had been proactive in removing all “dangerous ACM cladding” from its high-rise blocks of flats. Now with its five-year strategy in place, the council will be “continuing the work on building safety, remediation of cladding where this is necessary, and implementing the requirements of the new housing and building safety legislation”.

Of the 87 council-owned high-rise blocks of flats, 80 are within the Housing Revenue Account (HRA), five are managed by others as part of the Private Finance Initiative, and two are general fund blocks used for temporary accommodation. Key building information has been submitted to the BSR for all of these high-rises, and official visits are expected from April 2024. Type 4 Fire Risk Assessments have been carried out, while structural surveys and external wall surveys are still in progress.

Cabinet Member for Housing Management and Modernisation, Councillor Shaban Mohammed said: “Securing approval for our very important building safety strategy to ensure our housing blocks are safe for residents today is another huge milestone in our concerted efforts to prioritise investment in our housing stock to improve the quality of life for residents and to protect our homes for future generations.”

In October 2023, the council became the first local authority to successfully prosecute a building owner for “failing to remove flammable cladding” from a block of residential flats within the “required period”. As previously reported by the FPA, the “monumental ruling” was seen as a “clear warning to all building owners” to ensure that resident safety was made a top priority.

We have already taken considerable actions to make our residential buildings safer with our first successful cladding prosecution last year and are continuing to identify high-risk buildings and remove unsafe cladding,” Councillor Mohammed added.

We will shortly be starting to engage with our residents to ensure they understand what the new regulations might mean for them and their homes along with providing new resources to find information and log complaints.”

The council’s full strategy is available to view here.