Slough high rise issues continue
THE NOVA House high rise in the town, previously watched ‘round-the-clock’ due to ‘unsafe’ cladding, is now likely to see work funded by an insurance claim.
In October, it was reported that the building failed the government’s safety tests on cladding, before further fire service investigations ‘revealed other hazards inside’, Slough Borough Council spending over £40,000 to hire a fire appliance ‘to be on standby outside’. In turn, it was paying around £2,000 per day for fireighters ‘to watch over’ the privately owned block.
Despite the council not owning the building, it made the decision to spend taxpayer money on the ‘private fire engine’ to prevent a fire from happening, and was working with freeholder Ground Rent Estates 5 Ltd to ‘take over the building’. The company supported the council’s move as it ‘was better equipped to resolve the issues’, and had been working with authorities ‘to ensure all fire safety issues are addressed’, bringing in fire wardens for constant surveillance as well.
The news organisation added that while the cladding failed tests, the rockwool insulation ‘is accepted as having good fire resistant qualities’, with councillors denying the building is unsafe for residents and ‘working on the advice of fire experts’. Now, Slough Express has reported that the £4m estimated cost to replace the cladding and undertake other work ‘may be footed by insurers instead of leaseholders.
As previously mentioned, the council has planned to buy out Ground Rent Estates 5 Limited, with negotiations continuing. Comments at a scrutiny committee meeting had ‘discussed the possibility’ of leaseholders paying for the improvements, but a council spokeswoman said that an insurance claim against insurers BLP was ‘on the cards’, adding that ‘until we are the freeholder, we can’t make the decision about how we may take the costs back, however an insurance claim is a possibility’.
Sohail Munawar, leader of Slough Borough Council, stated in October: ‘We have been concerned about the fire safety at Nova House since the terrible tragedy at Grenfell Tower in June and have been closely monitoring the situation. Unfortunately it has now got to the stage where we feel, to protect the safety of the residents now and in the longer-term, we have to intervene directly and take over responsibility for Nova House.
‘We know there is a great deal of work that needs to be done to Nova House to bring it up to the correct safety standards and we do not believe the current freeholder has the capacity to do what is needed for the residents.’