FAQs for tower block residents

///FAQs for tower block residents

Following the announcement that Barnet Council’s Housing Committee has agreed a total of £17.5million for high-priority fire safety works, here are some of the most frequently asked questions about fire safety.

We hope this covers any questions you may have. We will continue to update this list with additional questions that are relevant.

You can read the original announcement here and the full Housing Committee report here.

Scroll down to find the answers to:

  1. What works will this funding cover?
  2. Is my building affected?
  3. Is it safe to remain in the buildings?
  4. How long will the high priority works take?
  5. When will these works be happening in my building?
  6. How are you funding this programme of works?
  7. Are leaseholders being asked to contribute to the costs?
  8. How did you identify and decide what were priority works?
  9. Why are these works taking place?
  10. What steps have Barnet Homes and Barnet Council taken to ensure resident safety since the Grenfell Tower Fire?
  11. When will the cladding on the Granville Estate tower blocks be replaced?
  12. What is happening with the works around sprinkler systems?
  13. How are you consulting and engaging with residents, including leaseholders?

    1. What works will this funding cover?

The £17.5million will cover the cost of the cladding removal and replacement on the three tower blocks on the Granville Road estate (Granville Point, Harpenmead Point and Templewood Point), and the cost of high-priority fire safety works across the council’s 26 high rise blocks, including:

  • The upgrading of some communal and flat front entrance fire doors to a higher grade of fire and/or smoke resistance
  • Improved compartmentation between floors and flats
  • Upgrading ventilation systems where some gas services are installed within buildings
  • Improving access into the blocks for the emergency services in the event they need to access the building, such as dedicated parking/loading areas at block entrances.
  1. Is my building affected?

 The affected buildings are:

1 – 128 Longford Court NW4
1 – 60 Templewood Point NW2
1 – 60 Granville Point NW2
1 – 60 Harpenmead Point NW2
1 – 67 Silk House NW9
1 – 6 Shoelands NW9
7 – 28 Shoelands NW9
1 – 41 Nant Court NW2
1 – 15 Mountfield NW2
13 – 56 Norfolk Close N2
13 – 56 Prospect Ring N2
61 – 104 Prospect Ring N2
1 – 44 Upper Fosters NW4
45 – 88 Upper Fosters NW4
1 – 44 Clare Point NW2
1 – 44 Norden Point NW2
1 – 44 Whychcote Point NW2
1 – 48 Hudson NW9
1 – 24 Kemp NW9
1 – 20 March NW9
1 – 45 Martynside NW9
1 – 30 Merlin NW9
1 – 50 Mercury NW9
1 – 60 Moineau NW9
1 – 30 Nighthawk NW9
1 – 192 Marsh Drive NW9

  1. Is it safe to remain in the buildings?

Yes, the buildings within this programme of works have up to date fire risk assessments (FRAs) and regular inspections by Barnet Homes’ staff. These additional fire safety works are to support and strengthen the existing ‘stay put’ fire strategy within the blocks, as recommended by the London Fire Brigade.

  1. How long will the works take?

Current indications are that the works will be completed within a 24 month period. As with any large scale project like this (the 26 high rise blocks have more than 1300 separate flats, as well as communal areas and stairwells), our timeline could change as we move through. We will communicate these specific works and timelines directly with residents in each block.

  1. When will these works be happening in my building?

The detailed plan of works will be different from block to block. These plans are being finalised, and timescales of proposed works will be communicated to residents of each block as soon as possible. Please ensure you read all letters you receive from us, as these will include important information about the specific works happening in your building.

  1. How are you funding this programme of works?

The budget will be allocated from the council’s Housing Revenue Account, while the Council seeks funding from central Government. There are restrictions on how much councils can borrow to invest in housing, and councils are legally prohibited from spending our general reserves on social housing. Clarity from Government on their proposed financial offer is therefore essential.

  1. Are leaseholders being asked to contribute to the costs?

Leaseholders will not be expected to contribute towards the cost of the removal of the cladding and its replacement on the Granville Road estate. In addition, leaseholders will not be expected to contribute towards the cost of undertaking the high priority fire safety works within the 26 high rise blocks.

When the fire safety works are combined with other programmes of works then leaseholders will still be expected to contribute as usual to all other works.

  1. How did you identify and decide what were priority works?

All 26 of our high rise blocks (defined as having six or more floors, or five or more with cladding) are considered a priority. Surveys were undertaken in sample flats and communal areas of all of high rise blocks, looking at things that impact compartmentation of flats and communal areas, and things that will best assist the London Fire Brigade (LFB) in the event of a fire.

In residential blocks like ours, a key priority to ensuring homes are safe in the event of a fire is to ensure that each flat or communal area operates as a separate fire compartment, which minimises the risk of fire and/or smoke spreading from where it starts. Allowing the LFB to do their job in the best way possible is also a key priority, to ensure a fire is controlled as soon as possible.

Therefore, works that were identified in the surveys to improve the level of fire compartmentation, or that would assist the LFB in undertaking firefighting operations, are of a higher priority.

  1. Why are these works taking place?

In the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Tower Fire, the Council committed £10million to additional, enhanced fire safety measures in our high-rise tower blocks going beyond what is the statutory requirement.

To ensure such a tragedy is not repeated, we have a responsibility to our community to make sure safety systems are of the highest standard – including investigating whether sprinklers would be appropriate in our high-rise tower blocks. As well as removing the exterior cladding from the towers in Granville Road, the Housing Committee has agreed to oversee a programme of investment, incorporating advice from the London Fire Brigade, to provide added fire safety measures and reassurance to our residents in all of our high rise blocks.

We will continue to work closely with the London Fire Brigade and are ready to fully support any changes on fire safety advice.

  1. What steps have Barnet Homes and Barnet Council taken to ensure resident safety since the Grenfell Tower Fire?

In the immediate aftermath of Grenfell Tower, we carried out inspections of the three tower blocks at Granville Road, NW2. Following our inspections, we were clear that the cladding system at Granville Road was different to what was used at Grenfell Tower. Although the exterior rain screen panels were similar to those reportedly used at Grenfell Tower, the insulation materials behind the exterior panels were made from a A1 rated non-combustible mineral fibre material, and non-combustible fire stops were fitted at each floor level and around windows, which mitigated the fire risk.

However, despite these crucial differences between Granville Road and Grenfell Tower, in light of information from testing of similar exterior panels to those on Granville Rd, we were not prepared to take any chances with the safety of our residents. Therefore, the council and Barnet Homes made the joint decision to remove the cladding, and on 26 June, Barnet Council’s Housing Committee committed to investing an initial £10million in fire safety improvement measures. The budget will be allocated from the council’s Housing Revenue Account, while we seek funding from central Government

Barnet Homes was later informed by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) that the type of cladding system used on three tower blocks in Granville Road did not meet the required standard, along with over 200 other tower blocks across the country. The removal of the cladding has now been completed.

  1. When will the cladding on the Granville Estate tower blocks be replaced?

Barnet Homes is currently working on a solution for a replacement system, with a view to installing this in 2018.

  1. What is happening with the works around sprinkler systems?

The report to the Housing Committee also proposed delivering upgrade and enhancement works to blocks which have 10 or more floors, such as alarms and sprinklers if they are required, but recommended waiting for the outcome of the independent review of the building regulations and fire safety, led by Dame Judith Hackitt, scheduled for next spring. This is to ensure any further enhancements are in line with regulations. A further report will therefore be taken to the Housing Committee in June 2018.

The reason we are waiting for the review of the regulations to be published is in order to ensure that, as far as possible, what is specified is compliant with any likely changes to the regulations. This will avoid us proceeding with any work that may be deemed outdated in a short length of time, or not consistent with the requirements of any changes to regulations.

  1. How are you consulting and engaging with residents, including leaseholders?

We are regularly writing to residents in the affected high rise blocks. When works are being undertaken, regular updates have been and will continue to be provided. Prior to works starting, information about the proposed works will be delivered to residents and a drop in information sessions will be held close to the estate where residents will be able to meet the project team and discuss the proposed scope of works. Fire safety information has been provided to all tenants and leaseholders.

Please ensure you read all letters you receive from us, as these will include important information about the specific works happening in your building. Updates and fire safety information are also available on our website.

Residents of council homes will be consulted as part of reviews of fire safety systems in high rise council blocks.

2017-12-22T08:55:27+00:00 December 22nd, 2017|