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Arsenal accused of delaying critical cladding fire safety work until after football season

6 June 2022, 09:03

Arsenal accused of delaying critical cladding fire safety work
Arsenal accused of delaying critical cladding fire safety work. Picture: Supplied
Rachael Venables

By Rachael Venables

Premier League giants Arsenal have been accused of "delaying" life-saving fire safety work in residential tower blocks at the Emirates Stadium.

It's six months since residents at 1 and 3 Queensland Road got Government funding to fix the tower blocks.

But permission to put up the scaffolding and start work still hasn't been signed off by the club, and now LBC has seen an email in which Arsenal say it can start "after the football season".

Arsenal own the company which is listed as the "named freeholder" of 1 and 3 Queensland Road in North London.

They were built as affordable housing blocks when Arsenal got permission to develop the whole site for their new stadium.

The two bright blue and grey ten storey tower blocks sit just to the side of the main entrance, by the goods entrance to the stadium.

But in December 2019 residents there fell victim to the cladding scandal, when a survey found the blocks have missing fire breaks, and unsafe insulation that needs to be replaced.

No one has been able to sell their homes, and the bill to fix the works in total was going to run to £50-80,000 per flat.

They received Government funding for remediation last December.

LBC_2022_06_07_ARSENAL_CLADDING_V002.mp4

But Alex Fisher, who lives up on the tenth floor, said Arsenal still haven't allowed the work to begin.

"We breathed a huge sigh of relief. We were told we just need to get planning permission approved from Arsenal," he said.

"We thought it would just be a tick box exercise, that someone in their lawyer's office would just say 'yes just crack on with your fire safety works'."

"And since then - Arsenal have just been delaying the works. The whole time, coming up with random excuses like they need to check the paperwork."

Read more: 'Not one recommendation' from Grenfell inquiry has been completed by Govt, says Mayor

He's now been passed emails sent from an Arsenal representative to local MP Jeremy Corbyn last month, in which an Arsenal representative says: "We have agreed with the scaffolding placement and the work is due to start as soon as the [football] season ends."

Alex is outraged at the thought the timing of the football season is why they've waited for so long, especially as the works could take up to two years to complete.

LBC heard concerns about why cladding work was delayed
LBC heard concerns about why cladding work was delayed. Picture: Alamy

"It just seems that they are putting football and profit above people's safety."

He forwarded the email to managing agent Newlon, who replied: "We most certainly have never agreed with Arsenal Football Club to delay the works to coincide with the football season, though their correspondence could be shedding light on their own intentions in that regard."

Arsenal deny that the delays have anything to do with the timing of the football season.

Alex says whatever the reason for the delays, they are having a huge impact on everyone's lives.

Read more: ‘Living hell’ of residents trapped in dark and freezing flats due to cladding crisis

He has neighbours with growing families in tiny flats, and couples can't start a family because they don’t have the room.

They are also plagued with fears about the fire safety, with no end in sight, as next week marks the five year anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

In a statement, Arsenal said: "We take all health and safety matters extremely seriously. We have been working on the completion of the necessary documentation together with Newlon, and we are committed to providing Newlon with all necessary assistance to enable them to carry out these important works as soon as possible."

Newlon couldn't "make any comment in relation to Arsenal Football Club" and said: "Discussions are progressing between ourselves and the Club regarding access for the works. Our residents’ safety is our primary concern and we look forward to starting on site as soon as possible.”

A spokesperson from Kier, which built the tower blocks, said: "We are aware of the alleged issues at Queensland Road and we are continuing to work collaboratively with Newlon and the design teams to progress a solution. As such it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time."

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