Screen Plans Over 'Walkie Scorchie'

The developers behind a skyscraper blamed for starting fires and causing damage by reflecting the sun's rays have said they will erect a temporary scaffold screen in an attempt to stop the "phenomenon".

The half-finished 37-storey tower at 20 Fenchurch Street in central London, dubbed the "Walkie Talkie" due to its distinctive shape, is now being called the "Walkie Scorchie" because of its 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 singed fabric. A motorist has also said the intense heat melted part of his Jaguar.

Developers Land Securities and Canary Wharf previously said they were working to prevent the problem from taking place, and said in a joint statement:

"Following approval from the City of London, we will be erecting a temporary scaffold screen at street level on Eastcheap within the next 24 hours.

"This solution should minimise the impact on the local area over the next two-to-three weeks, after which time the phenomenon is expected to have disappeared.

"The three parking bays will also remain suspended. We are also continuing to evaluate longer-term solutions to ensure this issue does not recur in future.

"We have liaised extensively with local businesses to keep them informed throughout. We have decided on this course of action with their input and agreement."

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."

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."

Land Securities and Canary Wharf said the problem was caused by the current elevation of the sun in the sky with the issue expected to last for around two-to-three weeks. Three parking bays had already been suspended.

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