Revealed: Five blocks in Norwich to have cladding replaced after failing Grenfell tests
PUBLISHED: 11:29 19 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:31 19 October 2018
Five tower blocks in Norwich are set to have their cladding replaced after failing fire safety tests, it can be revealed.
Aluminium cladding on the blocks at Geoffrey Watling Way, behind Carrow Road, failed the tests last summer, which were undertaken around the country in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy.
Developer Taylor Wimpey wrote to the residents in the 174 apartments at Robinson Bank, Nethercott Bank, Gavin Bank, Lochead Bank and Brennan Bank - which make up the NR1 Development - this summer to inform them.
While the cladding used on the buildings is different to that on the Grenfell tower, the Larson PE aluminium composite material (ACM) did not pass flammability tests last summer, despite complying with building regulations.
Taylor Wimpey has said it has put aside cash to replace the cladding on four of the five buildings, which are privately owned and run by a management company, but would not disclose the cost of the scheme.
In the fifth, the six-storey Brennan Bank, they said freeholder Broadland Housing would be entitled to government funding for the work.
The developer said it did not expect tenants to have to pay any direct costs for the scheme or move out during the work, but, with final costs of the work confidential, could not confirm whether any ‘indirect’ costs would eventually reach residents.
A Taylor Wimpey spokesperson said safety of tenants and homeowners and their families and visitors was paramount, and that an independent safety fire expert had been brought in to assess fire safety procedures, which they deemed to be robust.
“In line with guidance from the government, we have taken independent advice from a cladding expert on the further steps that should be taken in respect of the external cladding system at NR1,” they said.
“The advice we have received is that the ACM cladding and the insulation layer behind the cladding should be replaced on all buildings at the development. We are currently liaising with Broadland Housing Association to finalise our proposals for the replacement external cladding system and we anticipate that the cladding replacement works will start before the end of the year.
“We can confirm that Broadland Housing Association and residents will not have to pick up the direct cost of the works and we are in regular contact with them regarding our proposals.
“While we have been working to resolve the position at NR1 at the earliest opportunity, the specialist resources required for this work are in extremely high demand.”
Tests were also undertaken at two nearby blocks, Ashman Bank and Allison Bank, as a precaution, but replacement has not been deemed necessary.
The scheme was welcomed by Garry Collins, Norfolk fire service’s head of fire protection and prevention, who said a number of interim fire safety measures had been put in place.
“We fully support the replacement planning approach and existing fire safety arrangements and would urge all residents to help with ongoing safety management by following evacuation guidance and vigilant housekeeping, to help keep the building as safe as possible”, he said.
The developers said they have put in place additional measures to ensure buildings are fully compliant with fire safety guidelines, including upgrading the internal fire alarm system and installing heat detectors in the car park.
In July, it was revealed that Taylor Wimpey had set aside £30m nationally to cover the costs of replace cladding as it was the “morally right” thing to do. It is not clear if the funds for NR1 will come from this pot.
Commenting on the news, Dale Haskell, who lives in one of the blocks, said he welcomed the work. He said: “For a lot of people it is on their minds. People suffer with anxiety and something like can obviously make you worry much more.”
Fellow resident Craig Bamber said: “We still don’t really know what’s going to happen - we don’t know how long it will take and what they’ll need to do with us. We try to put it to the back of our minds but you do worry.”
Suffolk leaseholders to pay £21,000 for recladding works
Leaseholders in a Suffolk tower block were told earlier this month they would have to pay £21,000 each to replace their outside cladding.
The cladding was stripped from the 17-storey St Francis Tower in Ipswich after the Grenfell disaster, in work costing £4.2m.
Bosses at Block Management UK (BMUK) admitted it was a “bitter pill to swallow”, after owners of the block’s 116 flats were told of the costs at a meeting.
Of the meeting, operations director Simon Matthews said: “As you might expect [it] didn’t go down very well, there were a lot of unhappy people and a lot of awkward questions.”
The building’s owner will pay most of the cash up front, said BMUK, speaking on their behalf.
Eventually, though, leaseholders will have to pay unless they come to an arrangement with insurers.
Their money will be used to pay for the standard service charge for flats, including their contribution towards facilities and insurance.