Tower residents to be rehoused due to fire safety fears
RESIDENTS OF Biart Place in Rugby, which had recently seen its stay put evacuation policy rescinded, will now be rehomed due to ‘serious fire safety concerns’.
Last month, Rugby Council abandoned the stay put policy for its high rise blocks after surveys revealed they ‘may no longer be able to completely contain fires’. Residents of both Rounds Garden and Biart Place were told to’ change how they evacuate their blocks in the event of a fire or other emergency’, with the stay put policy for the 1960s built blocks having seen ‘wide criticism’ in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire and ‘intrusive survey works’ on the towers in Biart Place.
Now, BBC News has reported that all tenants of Biart Place will be rehoused after the council approved a plan to do so ‘over serious fire safety concerns’, with these including issues relating to ‘fire resistance, poor quality concrete and corroding steel’. At this point, only 90 of the 124 flats are occupied, with no decision made yet about whether to spend £25m on refurbishing the flats or demolishing them.
Tenants of both Fairway and Green Court in the blocks will receive compensation, and will be found ‘similar accommodation that meets their needs’, with all residents expected to have moved out by March 2019. The council had commissioned a survey in 2016 that found the blocks ‘had been built to a poor standard and may not perform as expected in the event of a fire or explosion’, but they ‘met British fire resistance standards’.
While the risk of a fire ‘had been substantially reduced because there was no gas supply and changes had been made to the evacuation policy’, the decision to rehome residents was approved. A similar report on Rounds Gardens – made up of three blocks with 189 flats – is being prepared, but the council stated that ‘the structural issues there were not the same as at Biart Place’.
Gene Parker Brombley, a resident of Green Court, stated that the resolution ‘at last’ meant that he and his family would not be living in their flat ‘without knowing how safe they were’, adding that they were waiting to hear where they would be rehomed too. He stated that the blocks have a ‘terrible reputation’ and are viewed as ‘last resort housing […] there are a lot of unanswered questions and the work has been quite disruptive and there’s been anxiety about safety… it’s been quite difficult’.