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Wed December 06 2023

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Newham wins landmark cladding removal case

20 Oct The London Borough of Newham has become the first local authority to prosecute a building owner for delays in removing flammable cladding.

The Lumiere building [from Google Streetview]
The Lumiere building [from Google Streetview]

City of London Magistrates Court this week ruled against Chaplair Ltd after it failed to meet a deadline to remove dangerous cladding from its Lumiere building at 544 Romford Road, London E7. 

Newham Council pursued legal action using its powers under the Housing Act 2004 after Chaplair failed to remove dangerous cladding on the Lumiere building by the 31st March 2021 deadline imposed in an improvement notice issued by the council in September 2020. 

Work eventually began in May 2021, with dangerous cladding removed by February 2022. Through its legal action, the council successfully argued that there was no reasonable excuse for the delay.

Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz said: “Through our Newham Cladding Action campaign to protect the rights of residents in our borough, we have zero tolerance for owners of buildings delaying essential life-saving fire safety work. Failing to remove dangerous cladding as quickly as possible places lives at risk and, where necessary, we will act with full force using the powers we have to protect our residents.

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“Six years after the Grenfell Tower disaster, today’s decision by the court symbolises a landmark ruling in our fight to raise standards and hold building owners to account in Newham. It will also help authorities across the country to safeguard the interests of their residents using the powers available under vital housing legislation.

“This monumental ruling sends a clear warning to all building owners operating in Newham that they must act swiftly in the interest of our residents’ safety first and always, otherwise we will take decisive action against you.”

In his ruling, deputy chief magistrate Tan Ikram wrote: “The prosecution have satisfied me so that I am sure that a valid improvement notice was served and the defendant company did not carry out the required remedial works relating to the external facades within the required period.  The defendants have failed to satisfy me that they have reasonable excuse in failing to comply with the improvement notice. I therefore find Chaplair Ltd guilty of the offence.”

The case will return for sentencing on Tuesday 31st October 2023 at Westminster Magistrates Court.

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