Council to buy out Lakanal leaseholders
Southwark council has authorised the buy back of leaseholder homes in its tower block where six people died in a fire last year.
The police, fire service and the Health and Safety Executive have been carrying out investigations into the cause of the fire on 3 July in Lakanal House, Camberwell, south London.
It was agreed at a meeting of the council’s executive last week that it needs total control of the block during this time.
The report from the meeting states: ‘Most of the nine flats sold on long leases were unaffected by the fire and leaseholders could insist on being allowed access/to use their flats. The early buy back of the flats will mitigate the risks involved.’
It says leaseholders will have a financial incentive to sell back properties, which the council is hoping will avoid the need for compulsorily purchases.
The report states the market value of the properties is above £100,000, and officers have already started to negotiate with leaseholders to agree the terms of purchase.
The document notes: ‘There is a risk that it will not be possible to acquire all leaseholds by agreement in which case this will inhibit the policy approach to the block.’
It also says a decision on the future of the block will be taken following the investigations on the fire in July.
‘For practical and legal reasons, Lakanal needs to be preserved in its current state until the police investigation concludes and the coroner has had the opportunity to consider whether he will want to visit the site as part of the inquest,’ it says.
‘A decision on its future will be informed by the results of those proceedings, and cannot therefore be taken at this stage.’
Fire, police and Health and Safety Executive representatives told a pre-inquest hearing in December their reports into the blaze would not be complete until June 2010.
A Southwark council spokesperson said: ‘We are as anxious as everyone to find out why the tragic fire at Lakanal spread as it did. The complex police investigation is continuing and the council is cooperating fully with all the different agencies who are involved.
‘In the meantime, work continues to make residents in other blocks feel safer. The council has undertaken in-depth inspections of similar buildings, begun a programme of fire safety works and is raising awareness of fire safety across the borough.’