Combustible cladding still on Leicester high rise
THE CLADDING on The Summit in the city centre is yet to be removed or replaced nearly two years after the Grenfell Tower fire.
Leicester Mercury reported on the ‘complex’ situation facing the 22 storey building, the cladding on which failed the government’s fire safety tests undertaken in summer 2017. That July, both Leicester City Council and Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) confirmed that one building in the city had failed the tests, but did not publicly name it, though in a recent council meeting it was identified because the cladding still needs to be removed.
The 22 storey building is clad in aluminium composite material (ACM), though LFRS stated that it was satisfied that the building is ‘safe to occupy’ because of its other fire safety measures in place. The building’s owners, Student Roost, stated through a spokeswoman that the existing cladding would be replaced ‘as soon as possible’, and indicated this would be done in the summer.
She added: ‘Student safety is of paramount importance at The Summit and all Student Roost properties. It is our priority to replace ACM cladding from The Summit as soon as possible. Initiating the cladding removal has been a complex process, however work is due to start in June 2019, subject to planning, and should take six months to complete. We work closely with third parties, including the fire service in Leicester, and have a comprehensive fire strategy in place at The Summit.
‘This includes sprinkler systems, firefighting lifts and state-of-the-art fire alarm systems, all of which are maintained to the highest standards and tested in accordance with current regulations. We also double-man night security as an additional safety measure.’
Andy Connelley, the city’s assistant mayor for housing, stated: ‘Following the tragic Grenfell fire in 2017 the Government instituted a building safety programme for high rise residential buildings and a review of fire safety regulations. In the city there are 108 buildings with floors above 18 metres. Two buildings were found to have cladding that needed to be replaced.
‘Work on Merlin Heights in Bath Lane has now been completed and the remedial work on The Summit building in Eastern Boulevard is to be completed this year. The review of fire safety regulations – what is known as the Hackett review has proposed radically new proposals about the regulation of high rise residential buildings. In Leicester there are 20 such buildings with six owned by ourselves.
‘The proposal is to set up a new joint authority consisting of a the local authority, the health and safety executive and the fire and rescue service which will oversee fire safety in highrise residential buildings across the city through their life cycle – from initial plans for construction to occupation and redevelopment.’
He added that the council was waiting for government advice on how the new system would work, while the first sprinkler system had been retrofitted in Maxfield House, and other blocks will ‘get the same treatment: ‘As an authority we have invested over £10 million in our council-owned tower blocks. Significant amounts of that investment went towards fire safety measures. Fire safety is of paramount importance to us as we continue to fulfil our obligations as our residents and tenants expect.’
A council spokesman also commented that the council and the government’s building safety programme have been in ‘regular contact’ with The Summit’s managing agents, with ‘plans in place’ to replace existing cladding and external insulation.
He stated: ‘The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is looking at new legislative powers relating to tall buildings and building regulation, because of the current limitations faced by local authorities and others. However, there are various enforcement options available to the council, although we haven’t need to use them because the owners of affected buildings in the city have been co-operative.’