ITV have produced a report about Arsenal’s flats at Highbury and the Emirates which is highly critical of the club’s handling of the fire safety of the buildings.

Emirates and flats
Emirates and flats

The flats that Arsenal built on the grounds of Highbury and close to the Emirates have reportedly failed post-Grenfell fire safety checks and, according to ITV, rather than help residents, the club have allegedly demanded that residents pay insurance costs.

The residents say that, not only are there problems with missing cavity barriers to stop the spread of fire, something that would take around £4.7m to fix, they also cannot sell their properties due to the problems.

Cavity breaks are seen as a vital safety measure. The Athletic, however, add that it could cost up to £10m to fix all the problems when the issue of timber balconies and unsafe cladding are factored in.

Residents have been asked by Arsenal to pay £50-a-month to cover insurance costs while the Athletic add, “At Queensland Road, residents have been told they could be liable to pay up to £50,000 per flat, while at Highbury, the figure is £36,000 after an inspection in December 2020 identified serious fire safety issues.

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In a statement to ITV, the club said they had no responsibility for the ‘fabric of the building or fire safety compliance.’

Newtown Housing Trust, the housing association that run the flats, said, “A range of interim fire safety measures are in place so that the homes are safe to live in until remedial works are carried out.”

70 people died in 2017 when fire raged through Grenfell Tower in London in the worst residential fire in the UK since the Second World War due to the building's cladding.
70 people died in 2017 when fire raged through Grenfell Tower in London in the worst residential fire in the UK since the Second World War due to the building’s cladding.

Arsenal are meant to be a community club, said one of the residents. “The actual community hub is part of the building, its downstairs in the same cladding. The fact that they are not interested in being involved and they’re not pushing with us, I find it unbelievable. I think they do have a moral responsibility.”

Jeremy Corbyn, former Labour leader and MP for Islington North (and Arsenal fan), said, “No resident should be put under this kind of stress. The responsibility does lie with the freehold owner who constructed it.

Jeremy Corbyn with Sadiq Khan
Jeremy Corbyn with Sadiq Khan

“Not only does the building have to be made safe, but the excess costs that are being put on to leaseholders who bought what they presumed to be decent good quality safe flats and who now face these very large insurance bills, are completely unfair.

“In no way should people innocently buying flats in these blocks be charged by Arsenal, contractors and/or developers in the case of Newlon.

“These are all very wealthy organisations and all residents affected by this issue are individuals who are in no way responsible and should not be subjected to these huge additional charges. In this case, the residents need and expect Arsenal to behave fairly here, and soon.”

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.