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Calls for tighter basement control after house collapse

The Association of Specialist Underpinning Contractors (Asuc) has called on local authorities to put in place tighter control on contractors undertaking basement works after a house collapsed in London yesterday.

Planning permission for a basement extension was granted for the house in Sumatra Road, West Hampstead in 2014 and images of the site seem to suggest basement work was underway at the time of the collapse.

London Fire Brigade said firefighters were called to the scene and helped to evacuate people from surrounding properties and worked with Camden Council’s structural engineer to make the scene safe.

A spokesperson added: “There has been a total collapse of the two-storey property from the roof to basement level.”

Asuc chief executive Rob Withers said: “Images of the site show a conveyor and small excavator in the basement that suggest the collapse could be basement related.

“While it’s not clear if this collapse is due to basement works on their own, it is apparent on a structure that is having major renovation works carried the temporary works design, if it existed must be at fault or been incorrectly installed.

“We have called upon local authorities many times to insist on competent contractors being engaged in this type of work, with many recommending Asuc members, but apparently lacking the will the make it mandatory.

“How many more collapses of this nature will it take for action to be taken or do we need a fatality in the news to get action?”

Withers added that all Asuc members are audited on health and safety and technical capabilities in order to gain membership, which is reviewed every two years to ensure standards are maintained. In 2017 one member was expelled from Asuc membership because of non-compliance with a health and safety audit.

 

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