Fire safety of two Poplar HARCA tower blocks in question (Updated)

William Cotton Court and Anne Matthews Court in St. Paul’s Way Mile End have failed Fire Safety Assessment tests in the last few days according to local residents.

Both tower blocks are owned and managed by Poplar HARCA and were built by Rydon, the company that undertook the Grenfell Tower refurbishment.  Poplar HARCA is one of the largest Housing Associations in Tower Hamlets.

According to a statement released to LW this afternoon (see full text below) William Cotton Court and Anne Matthews Court is the only Poplar HARCA building that has cladding similar to Grenfell Tower. A small number of decorative panels (but not the main cladding) have been tested and advice has been given by the London Fire Brigade but there is no requirement to evacuate.

The panels will be replaced.

Details of panels unclear

The Poplar HARCA statement does not actually state that the panels failed or provide any detail of their size, number or location or if any regulations were breached. We have asked for clarification on this.

General view of William Cotton Court from St. Paul’s Way.


The buildings are part of a mixed-use development built by Rydon Group and designed by Gibberd Architects which was completed in December 2012.

According to the Rydon website the 34 affordable homes are arranged around two cores (13 for social rent and 21 for shared ownership).

The external façades are a mixture of brick, rain screen and render cladding.

The precise type of cladding used is not known or if this is related to the Fire Safety Assessment issues.

William Cotton Court (front) and Anne Matthews Court (rear) from St. Paul’s Way

The local resident who spoke to LW on the condition of anonymity said the two towers had failed the recent tests undertaken as part of urgent checks of social housing tower blocks taking place across the country.

Rydon Maintenance Limited, part of the Rydon Group, completed a partial refurbishment of Grenfell Tower in the summer of 2016. That work is now part of the investigation into the fatal fire two weeks ago.

William Cotton Court and Anne Matthews Court consist of 34 affordable homes built above 3,000 square metres of commercial space on the ground floor that includes a Prince’s Trust office, a Health Centre. dentists, chemists and research facilities for the St Paul’s Way Trust School opposite.

Anne Matthews Court from Selsey Street

Letters have been sent to all residents informing them of the issue.

Anne Matthews Court (right) and William Cotton Court (left) from Selsey Street.

Poplar HARCA was contacted twice for comment this morning but at the time of publication no response had been received.

Update 17:07 hrs Wednesday 27th June 2017

Poplar HARCA have now released the statement below. A copy of this is being delivered to all residents. A PDF version will be uploaded to the Poplar HARCA website shortly.

Statement by Poplar HARCA

Dear Resident

Re Fire Safety

Since the awful events at Grenfell Tower, we have been reviewing everything we do about fire safety.

Only one of our buildings has cladding similar to Grenfell Tower. A small number of decorative panels (but not the main cladding) on new build William Cotton/Anne Matthews Court have been tested; the London Fire Brigade has inspected the block and given us advice on what we need to do;and we have spoken directly with residents to reassure them and explain what happens next. The Fire Brigade do not require us to evacuate, but we will be replacing the panels.

No other of our blocks is at risk from similar cladding, but we will be knocking on doors to speak with residents in high-rises to answer questions they may have.

Please be assured that Poplar HARCA continues to have in place a robust Fire Risk Assessment process. A fire risk assessor inspects every high-rise block every six months. Our Estate Services Team is in every block every day. They keep blocks and estates clean and clear, they report repairs, and they speak with residents about keeping communal areas and balconies free from items that could fuel a fire or obstruct people trying to get out of the building in an emergency.

We will be taking a tougher stance with anyone that compromises the safety of your homes. Anyone leaving anything in shared areas that could fuel a fire or impede escape in an emergency will be required to remove it. We will also be inspecting all homes over the next year – and requiring you to provide us with access. We will be seeking to prosecute anyone breaking the law by smoking in a stairwell.

The London Fire Brigade’s information leaflet is with this letter. There is more advice on their website.

We need everyone to do the right thing to keep all of us safe. If you have any concerns or queries, talk to us on 0800 035 1991.

Yours faithfully

Steve Stride

Chief Executive



%d bloggers like this: