Grenfell book gifted to council by housing campaigners

All these local groups want for Christmas is tower blocks with two staircases

Local housing campaigners deliver copies of the book as Christmas presents to Enfield Civic Centre

A coalition of local campaign groups demanding better fire safety measures in tall buildings have delivered copies of a book about Grenfell Tower to Enfield Civic Centre.

Better Homes Enfield, Meridian For Council Homes, Black Lives Matter Enfield and Unite Housing Workers all clubbed together to buy some copies of Show Me the Bodies: How We Let Grenfell Happen written by Peter Apps, which details the failings which led to the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017, when 72 people died in a huge, fast-spreading blaze.

The campaigners wrapped the books up as Christmas presents and delivered them to Enfield Council this week. Specifically, the groups are calling on the council’s planning committee to stop granting planning permission for high-rise blocks with only single staircases, as has happened in recent months at the council’s flagship Meridian Water redevelopment.

Matt Burn, from Better Homes Enfield, said: “Anyone who reads Peter Apps’ book will understand why tall buildings should have more than one staircase.

“The aim of our campaign is to get Enfield Council to do the right thing and ensure that the tall buildings at Meridian Water will have more than staircase, and therefore give people multiple escape routes in the event of a fire.

“The lessons of the Grenfell Tower fire must be learned, especially by decision makers, and that is why campaign groups have gifted copies of Peter Apps’ book to Enfield Council.

“We hope they read it and that they do the responsible thing and change the design of the Meridian Water tower blocks.”

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Single staircases in tall buildings remain permitted under building regulations in England and the council is not breaching fire safety rules by approving them. However, it is an aspect of fire safety regulations that has received criticism from industry experts following Grenfell.

In September, two towers of 24 and 30 storeys were approved with single staircases at Meridian Water. In October another four towers, up to 16 storeys, were also given the go-ahead despite having only single staircases.

At the October planning committee meeting, Sarah Parkinson from developer Vistry Partnerships told councillors: “Fire safety considerations have been front and centre of our approach to design […] Vistry has gone over and above fire safety regulations.”

In both cases the council’s planning department recommended planning permission be granted and this recommendation was followed by councillors on the committee when it came to the vote. The planning officer for September’s application wrote in their report: “The application has been subject to rigorous review by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which is the statutory consultee on fire safety for buildings over a certain height.”

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