Leaseholders in Wandsworth Council blocks have gathered to oppose plans to install sprinklers across the borough.

Wandsworth Council plans to install sprinklers in all the blocks in the borough but a "tsunami of opposition" from leaseholders has slowed down plans.

Joe Cairns, treasurer of Alton Leaseholders Association and a resident in Alton Block, Battersea for almost 30 years, said: “We formed to oppose the sprinklers and other issues. We do not feel unsafe – we never have and feel it is unnecessary to install these sprinklers. It will create immense difficulties in a steel block flat, many people think this way.

“We have been told that the proposed costs for it will be between £2,500-£4,000 per leaseholder, and I think this will go up with unexpected costs. There has been no genuine consultation with leaseholders and no formal conversation.

“It is a blanket policy across all the tower blocks and a knee-jerk reaction to Grenfell. The tidal wave of opposition shows this. A fire has never spread through a block in Wandsworth, little thought has been put through this.”

A council spokesperson said: “The Council’s view is that sprinklers are the single most effective method of improving fire safety in high rise residential buildings.

“Those experts responsible for drafting the Building Regulations recognised this fact and, therefore, require any newly built residential block of 30 metres or more to be fitted with sprinklers irrespective of the blocks design, the number of escape routes or any other proposed fire safety measures.

“This is a mandatory requirement and is not based on individual risk assessments on proposed design or materials or the view of developers or potential owners.

“Wandsworth managed blocks have stood up well with the fire being contained in the individual compartment before being extinguished.

"However, there are recent examples of fires in high rise blocks breaching the individual compartment and spreading through the building.

“The Council, whilst doing everything possible to keep our blocks as safe as possible, cannot guarantee that at a point in time an identified risk or a combination of such factors would not lead to uncontrolled fire spread.

“To mitigate against this risk, it believes that the retro-fitting of sprinklers in its high-rise blocks should be a necessity, a position supported by the Commissioner for the London Fire Brigade.

“Sprinklers are a longstanding and proven technology which rarely fail or are subject to accidental activation. They can be installed quickly with noisy and disruptive work limited to one to two days.

“Any damage to internal decorations will be made good as part of these works. Sprinkler pipes and heads are contained within high level ducting and where possible ducting is run in hallways with only minimal intrusion into the habitable rooms.

“Wandsworth Council believes that sprinklers are a necessity and should not be optional any more than any other essential building component such as replacement fire doors.

“This is a view expressly relayed by Dany Cotton, the London Fire Brigade Commissioner, in an interview given some weeks after the Grenfell Tower fire.

“The council, as freeholder and landlord, has a legal responsibility to manage and maintain its blocks and to keep its residents as safe as reasonably possible and would be open to legitimate criticism if it failed to do so.

“Installing sprinklers in every property in a block protects the lives of those residents in the property itself and those in neighbouring dwellings as well as ensuring that damage to property and possessions caused by a fire is minimised.

“Comparisons cannot be made to privately owned houses where the responsibilities placed on freeholders of large scale multi occupied blocks simply do not apply.”

A tribunal is to be held on October 16 at the Wandsworth Civic Centre to decide if the council can charge leaseholders for the installation of sprinklers.