Two council blocks could get uPVC windows despite concerns they will ‘fuse shut’ in fire

Plans for plastic windows: Keir Hardie House

Plans for plastic windows: Keir Hardie House

Two 1930s council blocks in Archway could have new plastic windows fitted – despite fears they will “fuse shut” in the event of a fire.

The Town Hall wants to replace single-glazed windows at 32-54 Keir Hardie House and 1-12 Arthur Henderson House on the Hornsey Lane Estate with double-glazed uPVC ones.

A planning committee will decide whether or not to approve the application at a meeting on 17 July.

Hornsey Lane Estate was built in the 1930s and sits in the Whitehall Park Conservation Area.

The council argues that planning permission for uPVC windows has previously been granted for a number of other blocks on the estate.

A public consultation of 233 households earlier this year garnered only two objection letters.

These raised concerns that uPVC windows would fuse shut in a fire, preventing them from being used as an escape route.

An ongoing inquiry into last year’s Grenfell Tower tragedy heard from experts in June that the uPVC window frames appeared to have melted during the blaze, exposing combustible materials within them.

But an Islington planning officer recommended that the committee approve the use of plastic windows, saying the council is “required to ensure that all works are carried out in accordance with the relevant fire safety and building regulations”.

The objectors also complained that uPVC windows are less durable than modern wooden windows, do not offer significant savings on maintenance and are not eco-friendly.

The officer’s report concedes that timber “would be a preferable material […] from a design and conservation perspective”, but concludes that the “proposed double-glazed windows would not result in significant harm to the appearance of the buildings”.

It goes on to state that the double-glazed windows “would serve to improve the thermal efficiency of each individual residential unit, thereby contributing to reductions in carbon emissions, energy usage and would assist in combating fuel poverty”.