MP Criticises Fire Safety at North Acton Tower Blocks

Single staircases for tall buildings not being allowed in other boroughs

Towers being built at Portal Way in North Acton. Picture: City and Docklands Property Group


56-storey Tower Just First Stage of One Portal Way Plan

North Acton 'Monstrosity' Could Get Even Bigger

Anger As North Acton Skyscraper Gets Go Ahead

University Buys Carphone Warehouse Site in Park Royal

Sign up for our Acton newsletter

Comment on this story on the

Hammersmith MP Andrew Slaughter has criticised the use of single staircases in skyscrapers that have been approved in a recently built tower block in North Acton.

In his recent email newsletter sent close to the anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, he welcomed the decision to abandon a plan for a 35-storey building in White City at the Westfield site. The new design will have fewer storeys and a second staircase in line with the recommendations of London Fire Brigade.

He told his constituents, "New tall and very tall buildings are being put through planning with a single staircase despite the concerns of the London Fire Brigade. I was pleased to learn this week that the new towers planned for the Westfield site in White City have come down in height and will have
a second staircase – they will still be up to 35 storeys, but in neighbouring Acton there are plans for 55-storey towers with a single escape stair."

He confirmed that he was making reference to One Portal Way in North Acton, the 55-storey building which is close to completion. He says that there may be at least four very tall buildings in this area which will be constructed with a single staircase. The timeline for construction of these buildings is unclear and they may now be under the planning control of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) rather than Ealing Council which gave approval for the first tower. It is understood that issue with the lack of capacity on the electricity grid may also delay the completion of these buildings. Mr Slaughter has been told that the developer, Imperial College, may be reconsidering the design of the remaining buildings.

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) was persuaded to scrap its original scheme near the shopping centre after discussions with Hammersmith & Fulham Council planners. Survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire had described the proposal, which was just a few hundred metres away from the site of the tragedy, as ‘shocking’ and it is believed this was a factor in the revisions.

The original design relied on the ‘stay-put’ strategy that proved so fatal at Grenfell. The theory was that the fire would be contained at the point where it started but combustible cladding meant that the whole building was eventually alight.

URW had insisted that the design was in line with current building regulations and that apartments in the new complex would have had sprinklers and there was to evacuation lifts for disabled residents. As the building façade was deemed 100% non-combustible, it was felt a “stay put” strategy would be safe.

Earlier this year, the developer of a 51-storey apartment tower close to Canary Wharf withdrew its application after concerns were raised about the single staircase.

Many other countries have a requirement that more than one staircase should be provided in tall buildings and some fire safety experts are arguing this should be introduced in the UK.

When asked about the issue, the chair of Ealing’s planning committee, Cllr Shital Manro, said that the issue had been raised at Mayor’s Question Time this February. The Mayor had responded by saying, “ My London Plan Policy D12 requires all development to achieve the highest standards in fire safety and Policy D5 seeks the provision of an evacuation lift, where a lift core will be provided. My recently published draft Fire Safety London Plan Guidance requires developments to provide a rigorous assessment of the number of stair cores provided based on factors such as the proposed evacuation strategy, the height of the building, and the anticipated number of occupants.

“I am aware that in many instances residential buildings are designed to support a ‘stay put’ strategy and that one staircase may comply with the Building Regulations. However, after the Grenfell Tower tragedy, residents’ willingness to stay in their flats may have changed. I have repeatedly said that the fire safety requirements in national Building Regulations are not fit for purpose and the progress of reform is too slow.”

Cllr Manro pointed out that the issue is a matter of building regulation rather than planning so it would not necessarily be within the powers of the borough planning committee to refuse designs incorporating a single fire escape route.

We have asked Ealing Council for comment and await a response.

Like Reading Articles Like This? Help Us Produce More

This site remains committed to providing local community news and public interest journalism.

Articles such as the one above are integral to what we do. We aim to feature as much as possible on local societies, charities based in the area, fundraising efforts by residents, community-based initiatives and even helping people find missing pets.

We’ve always done that and won’t be changing, in fact we’d like to do more.

However, the readership that these stories generates is often below that needed to cover the cost of producing them. Our financial resources are limited and the local media environment is intensely competitive so there is a constraint on what we can do.

We are therefore asking our readers to consider offering financial support to these efforts. Any money given will help support community and public interest news and the expansion of our coverage in this area.

A suggested monthly payment is £8 but we would be grateful for any amount for instance if you think this site offers the equivalent value of a subscription to a daily printed newspaper you may wish to consider £20 per month. If neither of these amounts is suitable for you then contact and we can set up an alternative. All payments are made through a secure web site.

One-off donations are also appreciated. Choose The Amount You Wish To Contribute.

If you do support us in this way we’d be interested to hear what kind of articles you would like to see more of on the site – send your suggestions to the editor.

For businesses we offer the chance to be a corporate sponsor of community content on the site. For £30 plus VAT per month you will be the designated sponsor of at least one article a month with your logo appearing if supplied. If there is a specific community group or initiative you’d like to support we can make sure your sponsorship is featured on related content for a one off payment of £50 plus VAT. All payments are made through a secure web site.




Bookmark and Share