Editor, IFSEC Global

January 3, 2020

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Cladding concerns in tower blocks continue

Concerns over cladding in tower blocks continue post-Grenfell, demonstrated by two recent examples in the north of England.

The Cale Cross office block in Newcastle is set to replace its current aluminium cladding, as it is set to be turned into a series of flats after a scheme was revealed in 2019 by London-based M7 Real Estate.Cladding-20

Plans have been lodged to replace the aluminium cladding on the outside of Cale Cross House before it is turned into apartments, as the material does not comply with post-Grenfell fire safety rules. According to documents lodged with Newcastle City Council, the existing cladding “would not be compliant” with fire safety regulations for residential accommodation.

A statement from England Lyle Good town planners on behalf of the developer reads: “The changes to the present cladding system are required in light of our client’s intention to convert the building to residential apartments in line with the current prior approval consent, specifically due to changes to Building Regulations post-Grenfell; we understand that the present system would not be compliant with the relevant regulations from a fire safety perspective for residential accommodation.”

The council has identified 11 buildings in the city with aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding, following the Government’s national building safety programme established in response to Grenfell.

According to a spokesperson, eight of these buildings have now had their cladding removed and replaced, while progress is being made on two more, with an ongoing investigation taking place on the extent of the work to the last.

Cladding in Yorkshire

While this may show that progress is being made on cladding related fire issues, in other news before Christmas, the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) have notified the owners of 13 blocks of flats that they will shut them down unless steps are taken to remove dangerous cladding.

The Service has written to the individuals legally responsible for the block with a timeline, committing to when the cladding/insulation will be removed. The owners or managers have been asked to respond by 10th January. It’s been a mixed response so far, with one company having applied for government funding to replace the cladding, while another has taken steps to rehouse its current residents.

The Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Dave Walton, said: “we do not wish to cause any alarm, we must be clear in advance that prohibition of the entire building, or parts of it, will be one of our considerations if we are not satisfied with the response provided to us by those responsible for your building.”

In June of last year, the ‘cladding crisis’ continued, as HPL cladding tests were finally planned two years on from the Grenfell disaster, with the Government also being criticised for focusing too narrowly on Grenfell-style cladding, as many other materials remain untested. 

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