Saturday 17 February 2018

Skyscraper blamed for fires

Developers of 20 Fenchurch Street in London, nicknamed the Walkie-Talkie due to its distinctive shape, are investigating reports of a damaging glare
Developers of 20 Fenchurch Street in London, nicknamed the Walkie-Talkie due to its distinctive shape, are investigating reports of a damaging glare
Developers of 20 Fenchurch Street in London, which has been nicknamed the Walkie-Talkie because of its distinctive shape, are investigating reports of a damaging glare.

Business owners have hit out at developers of a new skyscraper which they blame for starting fires and causing damage by reflecting the sun's rays.

The half-finished 37-storey tower at 20 Fenchurch Street in central London has been dubbed the "Walkie Scorchie" due to its distinctive shape and apparent ability to bounce heat from the sun onto buildings in the next street.

Angry business owners in Eastcheap say the £200 million project has blistered paintwork, caused tiles to smash and singe fabric. A motorist has also said the intense heat melted part of his Jaguar.

Developers described the problem as "a phenomenon" and said they are "looking into the matter as a priority".

Ali Akay, of Re Style barber's, said the position of the sun at a certain time of the day caused a searing bolt of sunlight to start a small fire and burn a hole in his company doormat.

He said: "We were working and just saw the smoke coming out of the carpet. We tried to cut the fire down, there were customers in at the time and they were obviously not happy.

"Customers are not going to come in if there is a fire in the front of the door."

Mr Akay, 22, said they had spoken to the managers of 20 Fenchurch Street to find a solution.

He said: "It is getting really serious. This is a health and safety issue. They should have looked into this before they built it."

Colleague Ayca Juma, 29, said: "It's the Walkie Scorchie. That's what caused this."

Next door at at the Viet Cafe, Diana Pham, 25, said they had suffered similar problems.

"Yesterday it was very hot so there was a concentration of light here. We thought something was burning in the restaurant but it wasn't, we searched everywhere. Then a customer came in and showed us," she said.

"A tile suddenly broke, the paint has bobbled too.

"This is a can be dangerous for people. But I don't know what they (the developers) can do about it."

Motorists have reported problems, too. Local businessman Martin Lindsay told City A.M. his high-spec Jaguar XJ, parked on Eastcheap on Thursday afternoon, had warped panels along one side.

The wing mirror and badge had also melted from the heat of the reflection, he claimed.

Van driver Eddie Cannon, a heating and air conditioning engineer, told the newspaper: "The van looks a total mess - every bit of plastic on the left hand side and everything on the dashboard has melted, including a bottle of Lucozade that looks like it has been baked."

A joint statement from developers Land Securities and Canary Wharf said: "The phenomenon is caused by the current elevation of the sun in the sky. It currently lasts for approximately two hours per day, with initial modelling suggesting that it will be present for approximately two-to-three weeks.

"As responsible developers we are making every effort to keep local businesses informed and we have communicated with them regularly since the issue first appeared. While we investigate the situation further we have liaised with the City of London to suspend three parking bays in the area which may be affected.

"In addition, we are consulting with local businesses and the City to address the issue in the short-term, while also evaluating longer-term solutions to ensure the issue cannot recur in future."

Press Association

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