Evacuated Northampton flats may see sprinkler retrofit

Evacuated Northampton flats may see sprinkler retrofit

OVERSLADE HOUSE in Northamptonshire was evacuated in August, with ‘consideration’ to be given to retrofitting sprinklers as part of the safety works.

Northampton Chronicle reported on the evacuation of 66 apartments at the block in East Hunsbury this August, after Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service inspected and ‘deemed the home unsafe’. The latest information on a refurbishment plan was that ‘consideration will be given’ to installing sprinklers, though Northampton Borough Council cabinet member for housing and wellbeing, Stephen Hibbert, ‘could not confirm that sprinklers would be installed’.

He stated in response to a question from the public that ‘there is no mandatory requirement to install sprinklers. Consideration will be given, however, to the installation of sprinklers as part of the design’. As a consequence of all residents having moved out, refurbishment ‘can now begin’, with some of the residents stating previously that a ‘small group of tenants would set fires outside’, while alarms were ‘being left to ring long after fire crews attended’, so ‘no one leaves their house anymore’.

Both the design and layout for the building are ‘yet to be finalised’, which is said to be why a decision ‘has not yet been made’ on the sprinklers. If the designs do not include sprinklers ‘there is the possibility it could be retrofitted’, with this undertaken at a similar block in the town called St Katherine’s, which will see installation of insulated cladding, new bin stores and an entrance lobby as well as sprinkler ‘by the end of March 2018’.

Dave Pickard, executive director of operations for NPH, which manages the block, said: ‘We have recently found alternative accommodation for all of the residents at Overslade House. We are now able to carry out the surveys needed to establish a programme of building works. We expect to have some plans to share by April 2018. Meanwhile, we are keeping in touch with residents to discuss their individual housing needs.’