Council takes over private flats that failed fire tests

10 October 2017 | By Will Mann

Image: Mark Kerrison/Alamy Stock Photo

Slough Borough Council is to take over a privately-owned block of flats which failed safety tests carried out in the wake of the Grenfell fire.

The local authority said the decision was taken to protect the safety of the residents of Nova House, in Buckingham Gardens, Slough.

On 29 June 2017, the block failed a test for aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding, and on 2 August, it failed a second test related to ACM cladding and insulation.

The six-storey building was built as an office in the 1980s but converted into 68 private residential apartments in 2015. Slough said that building control regulation was undertaken by a private approved inspector, not local authority Building Control.

Slough Borough councillors have now agreed to acquire the freehold of Nova House from Ground Rents Estates 5.

Slough said Nova House would be the first privately-owned residential building taken over by a local authority since the Grenfell tragedy.

Since the Grenfell fire, the council has been running a high-rise task force to deal with any issues relating to fire safety and tower blocks in the borough, liaising with Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue on both council-owned blocks and private sector blocks such as Nova House.

Leader of Slough council, councillor Sohail Munawar, said: “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.

“As Slough residents, our duty is to protect them and ensure their safety and this is what has driven this decision.”

Image: Mark Kerrison/Alamy Stock Photo


Sounds like Slough must own and control fully compliant Residential Tower Blocks.
A statistic which has recently come to light is that only 2% of LHA Tower Blocks in the country are fitted with sprinkler protection systems and have more than one emergency exit route. This is regardless of what cladding materials have been used on the envelope.
The point is that a holistic approach needs to be taken for a Fire Engineering solution to any building, including Active and Passive features.

Paul Hazelgrave, 10 October 2017

Repeat on all similar buildings throughout the country as matter of urgency and provide protection to residents until problems resolved

Geoffrey Stollard, 10 October 2017

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