Working together to make sure residents in tall buildings are safe

Nottingham City Council is continuing to take action to support residents living in tall buildings in the city while the Government outlines its latest plans for replacing unsafe cladding.

Buildings in Nottingham
Buildings in Nottingham

Last week, Secretary of State for Levelling Up Michael Gove announced a plan to protect leaseholders and make developers and companies pay to fix cladding issues.

In the meantime, Nottingham City Council wants to reassure those living in taller buildings (18 metres or over) in the city that since the fire at the Grenfell Tower in London which killed 72 people in 2017, it has been taking action to help keep them safe. The council’s actions include:

  • Immediately contacting developers and building owners to establish which buildings might have cladding considered to be a risk and therefore need replacing. Since then, all those identified have either replaced/or are in the process of replacing cladding.
  • Going above and beyond the Government’s independent review of building regulations and fire safety of tall buildings over 18 metres by setting up the country’s first Joint Audit and Inspection Team (JAIT). The team promotes and investigates wider fire safety aspects through audit, inspection – and when needed, enforcement action – of all multi-occupied residential buildings of 11 or more flats, not just tall buildings over 18 metres as suggested by the Government. The team is made up of officers from Nottingham City Council, including Environmental Health and Enforcement Officers, as well as Fire Safety Inspectors from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service.
  • Enhancing the levels of knowledge and experience of the council’s Building Control Team through further accreditation and skills training. This is to ensure full implementation of the new Building Safety Bill when it becomes Law later this year. This Bill contains new enforceable requirements for the design and construction of high-rise residential buildings, hospitals, and care homes, of at least 18 metres or over seven storeys high.

Cladding on Nottingham City Council owned residential tall buildings, which are managed on behalf of the council by Nottingham City Homes (NCH), already meet the required safety standards, and did not have the same cladding as that used on Grenfell Tower. However, additional fire safety works, funded by Nottingham City Council, to help reassure and keep Nottingham City Council tenants safe, have been happening at low-rise and high-rise blocks in the city as part of an £8.5m fire safety enhancement programme. They include:

  • Retrofitting sprinklers in high rise flats and communal areas of 13 high rise blocks
  • Upgrading existing intercoms with new tablets and door entry systems
  • Upgrading existing tannoys.

Councillor Linda Woodings, Portfolio Holder for Planning, Housing and Heritage at Nottingham City Council, said, “The safety of our residents and leaseholders, whether living in high rise council apartments or private rented ones, continues to be of the utmost importance to us.

“Following the Grenfell tragedy, we acted swiftly to establish which buildings might be at risk and to engage the co-operation of the building owners and developers, for them to put plans in place to start replacing any suspected unsafe cladding.

“Working in partnership, we have undertaken a huge amount of work to help reassure city residents on the wider safety aspects of living in buildings, which includes carrying out fire safety audits of existing and new taller buildings, as well as investing £8.5m in an additional fire safety programme for council tenants.”

Nick Murphy, Chief Executive at Nottingham City Homes said,Since the terrible tragedy at Grenfell, we have worked with partners Nottingham City Council to undertake a huge amount of work to enhance the fire safety of council-owned high-rise flats. All of our council high-rise blocks have fire risk assessments in place and are fully compliant with current regulations.

“The blocks were already safe prior to these works, but we have carried out further improvements like installing sprinkler systems, and upgraded the fire alarms, intercoms and communication equipment. This programme of fire safety improvements has offered further reassurances to the people living in our high rise blocks.” 

Richard Ellis, Station Manager at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service said, “We have been working closely with Nottingham City Council to improve and maintain the safety of these buildings in Nottingham.  In addition, we have introduced a range of new procedures and equipment aimed specifically at fighting fires in tall buildings.  To support this, we would like to remind residents of the importance of having smoke alarms and testing them weekly.”

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