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Frequently Asked Questions - Broadwater Farm Gas and Fire Safety

Following the advice from the Department for Communities and Local Government in the Summer of 2017, Homes for Haringey carried out a series of safety tests on low-rise blocks on the Broadwater Farm Estate built using the Large Panel System (LPS) in the 1960s and 70s.

What are the report findings?

The latest tests have found that several of the low-rise blocks on Broadwater Farm Estate do not meet the required building regulations for large panel system blocks with gas supplies.

This means that in the unlikely event of a gas explosion, there is a risk that the part of the building impacted by the explosion may become structurally unstable.

Although we have not carried out testing on every block, we believe the construction will be consistent across several of the blocks on the estate and that the findings will the same.

The blocks we believe to be affected are:

  • Debden
  • Manston
  • Stapleford
  • Rochford
  • Martlesham
  • Lympne
  • Hawkinge
  • Hornchurch
  • Croyden

How many people are affected?

We believe that around 1400 people in 725 properties are affected by this issue.

There are 360 council properties with gas cookers and 115 leaseholder flats which may use them too, we are in the process of meeting with residents to find out exactly how many cookers will need to be replaced.


When will the full report be publically available?

The report is currently being concluded and will be available on our website as soon as it is finished. We expect this to be in a few weeks.


Why has this only come to light now?

Studies began following national recommendations from the Department for Communities and Local Government. Unfortunately, there were no original drawings from when the estate was built and only partial archive evidence about the works undertaken on the estate since. As there was no evidence available further testing was required.

The low-rise blocks on the estate were originally built with piped gas supply for cooking facilities and were retrofitted with individual boilers when the district heating system was disconnected from the blocks in the 1990s. However, it is not known whether any studies were undertaken ahead of the boiler retrofit as to the suitability of these measures and little archival evidence is available.

Therefore, in 2017 Homes for Haringey and Haringey Council took the decision to commission more in-depth destructive surveys and detailed scanning of properties in the low-rise type blocks on the Estate. The blocks built using the Large Panel System were prioritised for testing following the discovery of similar issues on other housing estates in London.


What checks were carried out?

Since the partial collapse of Ronan Point in 1968, there has been a lot of focus on the use of gas supplies in high-rise buildings constructed using the Large Panel System.

We found that a programme of structural works and fire stopping was undertaken between 1984 and 1992. Conversations with staff working at the time confirmed that the borough received instructions from the then government and implemented them in-line with the recommendations but archive evidence is limited.

We also believe that structural assessments were completed on the towers in the 1990s. However, again there is little archive evidence available to support this.

Due to the limited amount of evidence available, we took the decision to commission additional checks and surveys.


Are any other Homes for Haringey managed blocks at risk?

No. Broadwater Farm are the only Large Panel System blocks of this type owned by Haringey Council and managed by Homes for Haringey.


Are the high-rise blocks on the estate safe?

Neither of the tower blocks on the Estate have gas supplies and our understanding is that one of the two tower blocks had the design changed during construction (Kenley) and retrospective strengthening works were carried out on the other (Northolt).

From speaking to people who were working at the time, we believe that during the 1990s full structural surveys were undertaken and both towers met building requirements. However, as there is no archival evidence for this, we are undertaking further surveys of these blocks and will inform residents as soon as we have more information.


What does this mean for affected Homes for Haringey residents?

In order to reduce the already low risk of gas explosions in the low-rise blocks, we propose to remove all gas cookers from all homes where they are present and to replace them with electric cookers. We have currently identified that 360 Homes for Haringey tenants in the low-rise blocks have a gas cooker.

We will also install gas disrupter valves on all properties within these blocks to shut off the gas supplies in the event of a gas leak.

We believe these measures will reduce the risks until a longer term option is ready to implement.

Our contractors are planning to start this work on Wednesday 13th December. We plan to replace all of the cookers before Christmas and the disrupter valves within four to six weeks.

Residents in the affected low-rise blocks are requested to contact Keepmoat on 0800 029 4288 to arrange for a survey to check what work is needed.


There has not been a problem since the estate was built. Why is it a problem now?

Although there have not been any issues with gas explosions, it is important that we undertake works now that we have identified the low-rise blocks on the Estate do not meet building regulations.


What does this mean for affected Homes for Haringey leaseholders?

We are making contact with the leaseholders and private tenants to ensure our contractors can gain access to the properties to carry out a survey and asses what work will be required.

Leaseholders will be sent further communication from Homes for Haringey regarding this issue.

Leaseholders can contract Homes for Haringey to speak to a dedicated member of staff about this issue on 020 8489 7020 or visit one of the drop-in sessions being held at the Broadwater Farm Community Centre between the 11th- 16th December. We are also in the process of setting up a Freephone number: 0800 953 0221.


When will my cooker be replaced?

From the 13th of December contractors will be working throughout the weekends and early evenings to get the work completed as quickly as possible.

Residents in the affected low-rise blocks are requested to contact Keepmoat on 0800 029 4288 to arrange for a survey to check what work is needed as soon as possible.


Can I supply my own cooker?

As we need to carry out this work quickly, Homes for Haringey will offer to replace your cooker and compensate you for your existing cooker. The new electric cooker will be gifted to residents. If you would like to change this cooker in the New Year Homes for Haringey will arrange for the electric cooker to be removed.


What if I don’t want the cooker you supply? Can I have an alternative?

Unfortunately, because we would like to do this work quickly to reduce possible risks, the choice of free cookers is limited.

If you would like to discuss this further, please contact Homes for Haringey on 0800 953 0221 or 020 8489 7020.


What are gas disrupter valves?

Gas disrupter valves rely on a sensor which detects the presence of gas and closes off the supply of gas to the gas boiler. This prevents a gas explosion should there be a gas leak as the gas is shut off before the amount of gas to create an explosion can leak.


When will the disrupter valves be fitted?

From the 11th December our contractors will be making appointments with residents to fit the disrupter valves. We are working with our contractors to complete this work as quickly as possible working over evenings and weekends.

Residents in the affected low-rise blocks are requested to contact Keepmoat on 0800 029 4288 to arrange for a survey to check what work is needed as soon as possible.


Will the work be disruptive?

You will be able to remain in your property while the work is carried out.

To fit the new cooker, we will need to cap off the gas supply in your kitchen. To fit the new disrupter valves we may need access to pipework behind the kitchen units. Any damage caused to your kitchen will be fixed by our contractors or our repairs service.

We apologise for the disruption caused, however this work is necessary to allow residents to stay in their homes. We hope to complete the work as quickly as possible with the minimum amount of disruption.


What if I am away during the period of works?

We will make an appointment with you when you return to carry out the works.


How will this be affected by the Christmas period?

Our staff and contractors will be available to fit new cookers and disrupter valves over the Christmas break apart from Christmas Day and Boxing day.


Can I still use my heating/cooker/hot water while I wait for the work to be carried out?

You can continue to use heating, cooking and hot water facilities.

We are asking residents to take caution to ensure cookers are properly turned off after use. If you have any concerns about the safety of equipment in your home speak to a member of Homes for Haringey staff or call 0800 953 0221 or 020 8489 7020 and we will arrange for an urgent inspection.

If you smell gas, call the gas emergency number on 0800 111 999. This is a 24-hour emergency number.

In the event of an emergency:

  • Do not smoke or light matches

  • Do not turn electrical switches on or off

  • Do open doors and windows

  • Call the National Gas Emergency number (0800 111 999)


Is it safe to stay in my home? 

Given the very low risk and the safety precautions being adopted, we believe it is unnecessary to leave your home. Broadwater Farm was constructed in the late 1960s and early 1970s and was originally built with gas supplies and to date we have not experienced any major problems.

Gas leaks and gas explosions are extremely rare occurrences. We have identified a risk but we believe the risk to be low. We will be reducing the risk further by replacing gas cookers and fitting gas disrupter valves.


Why are you removing the gas cookers?

The main risk of a gas leak in a home is from a faulty gas cooker. Therefore, removing gas cookers from the blocks will lower the risk of a gas explosion considerably.


Why have Homes for Haringey decided on this course of action?

Although the blocks have had gas supplies since they were built, our recent surveys have indicated there is a risk. We have decided that this is the most effective way to reduce this risk.

We believe that removing gas cookers and installing gas disrupter valves will minimise the risk to residents in the quickest possible timeframe with the minimal amount of disruption.

There were a range of options available to us to lessen the potential risk of a gas explosion and subsequent structural instability of the blocks. We evaluated the risk of a gas explosion, which is a very rare occurrence, versus the disruption and dangers to residents of disconnecting their heating, hot water and cooking facilities during one of the coldest times of the year.

We needed to evaluate the potential trauma and disruption of relocating over 700 families at Christmas into temporary accommodation compared to any inconvenience from carrying out work to replace cookers and install gas disrupter valves in buildings which have been inhabited for nearly 50 years without any serious gas-related incident.

We also have to take in to consideration the needs of our more vulnerable tenants - the elderly, those with disabilities and mental health issues and the affects that having to leave their properties would have on their health and wellbeing.


Can we be assured that resident safety is being prioritised over cost savings?

Homes for Haringey always puts the safety of its residents first. We are looking to make residents as safe as possible in the quickest possible timeframe with the minimum of disruption. Cost is not an issue at the current time and we have asked our contractors to undertake the work as quickly as is possible.


Who will be carrying out the works?

Keepmoat will undertake the works as their parent company is Engie Ltd, a multinational energy specialist responsible for the maintenance of the communal heating plant on the estate.

Keepmoat have recently been responsible for a kitchen and bathroom renewal project on the estate so have established relationships with residents and they know the estate well.

Keepmoat also have an in-house team of mechanical and electrical specialists who they can bring in to support this project.


What if I no longer want to live in the property?

Staff will be available onsite from Monday 11th December to talk to residents. We do not believe it is necessary for residents to vacate their property, as we believe we can reduce the risks by taking the actions we are proposing.


Who do I contact for more information / reassurance?

Our staff will be onsite throughout the week from Monday 11th December. Staff will be door knocking and residents can also visit our drop in centre at the Community Centre on Freedom Road.

If you would like to talk to a member of Homes for Haringey staff about any questions or concerns you can visit the Broadwater Farm Community Centre drop-in sessions or call the dedicated Homes for Haringey line: 020 8489 7020. We are also in the process of setting up a Freephone number 0800 953 0221.

How will vulnerable tenants be identified and supported?

Our Resident Engagement, Tenancy and Estates Services teams will be on-site all week. They will be carrying out door-knocking to all affected properties over a number of days to help identify vulnerable residents, they will be offered tailored support during this time.

What are the permanent options being considered?

The option appraisal is ongoing and will include the following:

  • The upgrade of each block to allow for all cooking, hot water and heating services to be electric
  • The installation of a new district heating system on the estate, upgrading the existing plant and services which are already onsite and which already service the two tower blocks on the estate
  • The retrospective strengthening of the blocks to allow for the continued use of gas within the estate

Once the option appraisal has been concluded, we and Haringey Council will engage with residents before a decision is made.

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Page Last Updated:

21 March 2018