Shurgard is rebuilding Croydon storage warehouse destroyed in devastating fire
Now, just over a year after the blaze, work has started to build a brand new storage facility.
Shurgard was given planning permission to build the warehouse in September 2019, with the new warehouse containing more than 1,100 units.
Crucially, the new four storey building will have sprinklers installed as well as a water tank, which Shurgard say will “enhance fire safety”.
The storage unit is due to open in the second half of 2020.
A planning report reads: “The main change of the proposed building from the building that was there previously is the change in roof profile.
“The original building had a shallow pitched roof, while the current proposal utilises a flat roof with parapet. Although this gives the building a higher eaves level, the overall height of the building is lower than the original building.
“One of the principle drivers for this change is directly related to the devastating fire which caused the destruction of the original building.
“The new building will have sprinklers installed which has caused the floor to floor heights to increase.
“By utilising the flat roof, it has allowed sprinklers to be accommodated while still keeping the height of the building below that of the original ridge line.”
In the Croydon Council planning officer’s report, it was said the building did not pose a fire risk.
The report reads: “The planning application has been submitted with enhanced fire safety measures at its heart with a large sprinkler tank proposed within the car park.
“Emergency exits and fire fighting stairs have been included and the panelling has been subject to regulatory and other recognised bodies testing such as the ISO, British Standards Institute and the National Fire Protection Agency.
“As such there is considered to be no planning reason that subject to the development going through building regulations would pose an undue fire risk.”
A spokesperson for Shurgard said: “The new 70,000 sq ft store will offer more than 1,100 self-storage units to the Croydon area.
“Shurgard aims for a BREEAM ‘excellent’ certification for this building, which is set to open during second half of 2020.”
Cause of fire ‘undetermined’
Fire crews were first called to the blaze at 7.47pm on December 31, 2018, with the London Fire Brigade’s (LFBs) control room receiving a total of 147 calls about the fire.
By 9pm, 20 fire engines and around 125 firefighters were battling the blaze.
All of the storage units were destroyed in the fire and the warehouse was demolished by January 9. Fire investigators were unable to examine the scene due to the possibility of it collapsing, and the cause of the blaze was filed as undetermined.
Two men were arrested on suspicion of arson in the days after the fire, but the 26-year-old and 25-year-old were released with no further action to be taken.
Detective Chief Inspector Richard McDonagh said at the time he was “satisfied” the fire was not started deliberately.
“The fire at Shurgard caused catastrophic damage, destroying the inside of the building and contents,” he added.
“The impact of the fire was devastating for those who have lost property and that is why it was so important for police to consider the possibility of an intentional or reckless criminal act.”
‘Everything I had in there is gone’
Following the fire, people who lost sentimental belongings in the warehouse spoke of their devastation.
A Croydon dad-of-two lost his wife’s wedding dress and his entire collection of photos of his daughter’s growing up.
Norman Noel woke up to the horrifying news on New Year’s Day that every memento he’d collected and stored had gone up in flames.
Living in a two-bedroom flat with no loft or garden meant Norman stored his huge collection of CDs, family mementos and equipment in a 40ft unit, believing they were safe and sound.
“I woke up at 6am [on New Year’s Day] and saw all the reports of a huge fire nearby on social media. Then I realised it was Shurgard. I live fairly close to the premises and we can see plumes of smoke,” he said.
“Only [on New Year’s Eve] I was in touch with the business to discuss renewal fees and now here I am realising everything I had in there is gone.
“I don’t have the means to store these items at home, I don’t have a garage, so everything you can think of was in there.”
Among the irreplaceable items lost are all the mementos Norman and his wife, Heather, kept from their children growing up, including photos from the baby’s scans.
They also lost first photos of them after they were born – plus wedding photos and Heather’s wedding day dress.
‘We lost £30,000 worth of items’
Stephen and Brigid Beck stored sentimental goods such as stamp albums, a lifetime vinyl collection and thousands of pounds worth of board games in a storage unit after recently downsizing their home.
The couple, who live on Upper Selsdon Road, in Selsdon, were planning on moving after Christmas, but their plans have been jeopardised by the huge fire.
Among the items destroyed is a War of the Ring Collectors Edition board game worth £2,500, a Small World Designer board game worth £2,000 and around 150 LP vinyl record albums worth £2,750.
In total, they lost around £30,000 worth of items.
“It is very, very distressing,” said Mr Beck.
“It’s only when you sit down on an evening and start to remember the things that were in there that you realise [what we have lost].
“You are continuously thinking of things you left in there.
“It’s an awful lot of money. We thought it was in a secure unit but obviously it wasn’t.”