Huge £14.5m fire safety upgrade due to be agreed for Thanet towerblocks

Staner Court Photo David Townsend

A huge £14.5million is to be spent on fire safety upgrades and CCTV installation at Thanet council owned towerblocks over the next three years.

The scheme will include an overhaul of fire safety arrangements, such as compartmentation works, fire doors, alarms, smoke vents, and flat entrance doors, as well as upgrades to electrical installations and the CCTV.

Works are already taking place at Invicta House in Margate and are due for completion next month.  The 14-storey block has been hit with a series of deliberate bin chute fires over the past two years. Residents also suffered a blaze in one of the stairwells which left significant damage.

Kennedy House Photo David Townsend

Some £900,000 was earmarked for fire safety improvements at the  six authority-owned blocks in Thanet council’s 2018/19 budget. This has now been substantially increased with just under £5,5million due to be spent in the coming financial year, including £134,000 for the CCTV installation.

Another £8.9million will be spent on works in 2021-22 and a further £61,000 in 2022-23.

The massive programme will also include redecoration, proposals to re-provide external wall insulation on five of the council’s blocks with a fully non-combustible system and full structural, electrical and mechanical surveys so any additional essential works can be identified.

Thanet council owns highrises Invicta House in Margate, Trove Court and Kennedy House and Staner Court in Ramsgate as well as blocks Brunswick Court and Harbour Towers in Ramsgate.

Crews at Trove Court 

Trove Court in Newcastle Hill has also been plagued by bin chute fires whilst Staner Court, in Manston Road, has had a series of issues with the lifts and in December suffered flooding from the roof tank that ran into electrics and put the lifts out of action.

One angry resident at Invicta House recently branded the block a ‘death trap’ after 17 lift break downs last year, fires and piles of flammable cardboard left inside the block.

The man, who asked not to be named, said: “ It’s a death trap.”

Fire crews at Invicta House Photo Abbie Small

A proposed rent increase across all of Thanet council’s housing will be used to help foot the bill.

Thanet District Council Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety Helen Whitehead said: “There is nothing more important than the safety and security of our residents. It is our legal duty to maintain and invest in our properties to ensure an excellent standard of housing for those we are privileged enough to care for. 

“Investment in our tower blocks both in terms of vital health and safety works and ongoing maintenance is of the utmost importance, and as such is an essential part of our continuing investment in the health and wellbeing of our tenants. 

“I am very pleased to be part of delivering a budget that prioritises safety and health in housing to such an extent and look forward to seeing the ongoing progress of these essential works.”