Student flats to see fire safety refit

Student flats to see fire safety refit

THE ‘MAJOR’ refit at the Paragon scheme in Brentford was announced after fire breaks were found to be ‘missing or inadequately fitted’.

Construction Enquirer reported on the refit for the ‘award winning’ student housing scheme, which features seven blocks, and which will cost around £8m. The development ‘came under scrutiny’ in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, and while ‘initially given a clean bill of health’ as it did not use combustible cladding, further checks revealed ‘inadequate cavity barriers’ behind the cladding that it has used.

Notting Hill Housing Trust, which owns the Paragon Living student business responsible for the blocks – which vary in size from four to 17 storeys - will replace external cladding and install ‘proprietary fire breaks’ and cavity barriers at a cost of £8m. It has chosen AD Group to carry out the refit, with the buildings – first completed in 2007 – acclaimed at the time as ‘one of the tallest modular building’ developments ‘in the world’.

A procurement contest for the work was not launched due to the ‘urgent need to replace’ cladding, and to install fire breaks and cavity barriers to both the student accommodation and ‘mixed residential flats’ within the complex ‘to minimise risk of fire and re-establish fire safety compliance’. The trust’s statement read: ‘Paragon student accommodation has been found to have incorrectly installed and missing fire breaks or cavity barriers behind the cladding system which means in the event of fire, flames could travel externally between floors.

‘The tower individual blocks C, D, E, F are occupied by 839 students and blocks A, B incorporate 221 self-contained one and two bedroom flats, whilst steps have been taken to mitigate risk, there is an urgent need to re-establish fire safety compliance.’

A housing association spokeswoman added: ‘In 2016, Notting Hill Housing became aware that the fixings on some cladding panels at our Paragon Student Lets site needed replacing so we carried out a full review of the external envelope of the building and scoped a programme of remedial works. Following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire, we reviewed all tall buildings in our stock – this review included the Paragon site.

‘The safety of our residents and their visitors is paramount. The fire safety measures in place have been agreed with the London Fire Brigade and ensure that our residents are safe both now and while the works are being undertaken. We are not seeking any recourse from the builders or designers of Paragon.’

Last week, Nottingham Trent University (NTU) announced that it will remove and replace cladding on the Byron halls of residence buildings.