Some people just don't listen! Who, after Grenfell, would choose to live in a high-rise block without only one staircase - only the desperate or the ignorant probably?
New North London tower blocks at Meridian Way have been approved, despite concerns, following Grenfell, that each one only has one staircase
Six Labour councillors in the Enfield Council planning committee voted to approve and grant planning approval to the plans in a meeting on Wednesday, September 28, 2022, when phase one was approved.The two new tower blocks at their development, Meridian Water in Upper Edmonton with the latest plans (phase 1b) include proposals for 676 homes and two tower blocks that will be 24 and 30 storeys tall of which 50per cent of the homes are proposed to be "affordable". There will also be shops, community and leisure spaces, a medical facility, and parks built. This enormous development, to be carried out over 25 years, will create up to 10,000 homes, regenerating the land, despite opposition to phase 1b of the latest plans, in particular concerns around the risk of flooding and fire safety. (For "affordable" read "a mixture of London Affordable Rent and shared ownership properties").
Part of the redevelopment area, which also features the affordable units, is in a high-risk area of flooding from Pymmes Brook, and one where the Environment Agency (EA) initially opposed the application based on the increased danger of flooding on that part of the site, but a fudge was reached with the developers to reduce the flood risk, including by removing all concrete from around Pymmes Brook, and EA then accepted the most recent flood risk model.
A single staircase in tall buildings was the problem at Grenfell and planning consent is dependent upon a 'stay put' approach in the event of a fire, but this relies upon every part of the building and its fire safety elements being intact and effective, and a single unforeseen change in Grenfell, the claddinig of the building, was sufficient for the horrific result. Many resident of Enfield commented in a public consultation that "Following Grenfell and at least until the report on the fire is made, a single staircase should no longer be considered fire safety compliant", but the 6 labour counsellers on the planning committee clearly know better. According to council documents, the application has been reviewed by the Health and Safety Executive, and the developers have "made necessary amendments to comply with fire regulations". This is at a time when the enquiry at Grenfell has already said that it will be making recommendations for "significant changes to fire regulations" and when the general public, following Grenfell, have taken the view that "IIn the event of a fire and a stay put policy, it's safer to get out quick". Two recent fires in "stay put" towers in central London have proved this, as tenants evacuated en-mass rather than observe stay-put instructions and risk another Grenfell.
It is unclear where liability will arise if the fire regulations are changed due to Grenfell prior to the flats being occupied, although changes recently indicate that the developer would be liable for making any building compliant with the new regulations, and it is hoped that this does not mean that the Enfield ratepayer will again be on the hook for millions of pounds as co-developer or under indemnity clauses or because the planning officers didn't have the foresight to think "Perhaps, after Grenfell, we should play safe and insist on two staircases"...but no, that didn't occur. Perhaps in our opinion because that would require an degree of intelligence and competence in the grand strategy of Labour thinking in Enfield, that has not been seen for years.
The public consultation on the regeneration project also raised concerns that the "open spaces are too small in relation to the number of additional homes", but that dodn't deter the planners who are hell bent on homes at any cost, even if they're inevitably going to become sink estates because of the lack of open spaces. There is a significant departure from previously-approved outline plans for the phase 1b site, with the total number of homes increased from 425 to 676 (Total phase 1 from 725 upto 977).
Enfield Council’s draft Local Plan, which recently underwent a round of public consultation, states that each phase of Meridian Water must meet a 30 per cent open public space target as a minimum, but it is claimed only around 11 to 16 per cent of Meridian One would now be “permanent, open public space”.