Plan to take wood off Samuel Garside House approved six months after Barking fire
PUBLISHED: 12:13 17 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:59 17 December 2019
Councillors have unanimously approved plans to take the wood off Samuel Garside House in an effort to get the building back to normality before the first anniversary of the fire.
If built, metal and other non-combustible material will replace the balconies that went up in flames on June 9, destroying 20 flats by the fire brigade's count. The planning committee saw the designs proposed by Bellway at a meeting on Monday, December 16.
While they eventually approved the plans, councillors questioned why it took so long to work up the replacement and why the work was going to take more than five months to complete.
A schedule seen by the Post shows work is due to finish by May 29, 2020, leaving only 11 days until the first anniversary of the blaze.
Technical director at Bellway Homes Steven Saville represented the company at the meeting. Commenting on the six-month wait for the plans he said: "There was an immediate reaction to that event [the fire] through the course of June and July where we were responding to the immediate cause and we were also exploring residents' consultations."
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There were two meetings with residents about the options, according to a council report, one in July and another in August. It said the residents' preferred option was chosen, though there was some disagreement about the colour of the balcony floors at the meeting from two people living in Samuel Garside House.
On the company's timetable, Mr Saville said: "We're very mindful of the disruption on the ground."
To that end, he said workers were using alternatives to scaffolding to minimise the effect on residents. He added the timetable included "conservative estimates".
Councillor Dominic Twomey asked why there wasn't any weekend work planned. Mr Saville said Bellway hadn't considered it, but it could look into it if asked.
Cllr Cameron Geddes is lead for regeneration and social housing. He told the Post after the meeting: "It's disappointing it's taken so long to get to this stage. The job now is to see if it can be accelerated, but not at the inconvenience of residents. [It's] to try to give people homes to which they want to return."
Now the work has been given the green light, Bellway has a year to complete the replacement.