Norwich to spend £2m on high rise safety

Norwich to spend £2m on high rise safety

THE COUNCIL has confirmed that over £2m will be spent on improving fire safety at the eight blocks in Norwich.

Last August, Norwich Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) undertook inspections of high rises following the Grenfell Tower fire, including ‘swiftly’ checking all residential buildings taller than 18m. This included nine in Norwich, with all ‘found to be compliant’, and Evening News 24 reported that ‘more than’ £2m would be spent on improving ‘the safety of hundreds of people living’ in the blocks.

Referring back to that survey by NFRS in association with NPS Group, the news outlet stated that a ‘string of recommendations’ were announced for improving safety in the towers, which collectively have over 450 flats. None of the blocks have cladding, and are ‘well maintained’ with ‘no serious concerns’, but for ‘extra safety’, local council bosses say they ‘intend to speed up improvement work which had been planned, or has partially been completed’.

This will include replacing 718 front doors and store doors for a cost of around £670,000, and work on this is due to start later in January. Norwich City Council noted that this work would ‘address almost half the issues identified’, with letters sent to council tenants and leaseholders in Normandie Tower, Winchester Tower, Ashbourne, Burleigh and Compass Towers and Aylmer, Seaman and Markham Towers.

Funding for the work will come from a budget ‘specifically for the council’s tower blocks’, with the work actually under way before the Grenfell Tower fire, but after which ‘had been paused’. The replacement doors will have fire proof letterboxes, while £1m will be spent replacing ‘wooden framed panels in bathrooms with metal framed fixed panels’, and putting ‘special sealant around ventilation ducts and waste pipes’, which will be undertaken in the next 12 months.

Additional work outlined includes ‘improvements’ to dividing doors in flats, replacing battery powered smoke alarms with hardwired ones, and removal of polystyrene ceiling tiles with the goal of improving compartmentalisation. None of the work will require residents to move out, while there will also be an education and information programme launched around fire safety.

Gail Harris, the council’s deputy leader, thanked tower residents for their patience ‘while the report was drawn up’, and caretakers in each tower. She added: ‘After Grenfell, we felt, as responsible landlords, that we need to check all of our tower blocks. The results are in the report and we’re trying to be very open about the findings and keep residents informed.

‘We are pleased that the fire service say they have no serious concerns, but have decided to make a significant investment and accelerate some of the work which we had been doing or planning. The doors are the most important replacement because they deal with a number of issues.’