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

Thanet council homes at 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.”

10 Comments

  1. Why should we fit the bill with rent increase shouldn’t the council fit the bill we already pay enough council tax and rent for the run down tower blocks. It’s like living at the local dump anti-social behaviour trouble fights constantly outbreaks in these tower blocks decent people have to put up with this why don’t you just make one tower block full of troublemakers so you can keep an eye on them. Why don’t you just Mark the tower blocks for demolition or given to the fire station so they can do their practice on which is Staner Court manston. Car parks full of uninsured cars with no tax on mopeds are in the building it’s just a rundown disgusting place to live there’s urine in the stairwells human excrement tramps living in the stairwells this graffiti all over the place

  2. Because like the rest of us , you’re expected to tolerate lifes least desirable people as well, as a result the low life feel free to carry on as they will. Don’t worry its not just you.

  3. Both photo at the top of listing are of staner court not Kennedy House. One photo shows front of staner court other photo is back of staner court.

  4. The investment in these blocks is long overdue .TDC has long failed in its duty of care to many of its residents through this neglect , this change is only to be welcomed , high rise rise living can and should be a good experience . However it does make one sigh to read councillor Whitehead’s above comments when she never replied to a number of emails and correspondence from a resident at Arlington House who raising the fact that there were many serious problems with the previous management agents Trinity Estates associated with health and safety fire and environmental failures. TDC freeholder and freshwater head lease holder failed to do anything about this until of course an expose in the housing tribunal and continued publicity in the local press forced their hands . Disappointingly months later Cllr Whitehead has still not replied or offered any assistance.

  5. “Proposals to reprovide external wall insulation”. – any detail on this? As it sounds very much like the , not particularly old, insulation is to be removed and replaced. As ever well done TDC/EKH , more money wasted. No mention of the outstanding works on the low rise blocks which includes fire safety works to comply with the 2005 act.

  6. It was EKH and mears who do the repairs, EKH has just been found unfit for purpose, the CEO resigned before she was pushed, and TDC has since been taken over what EKH failed to do

    • But TDC own 25% of EKH , in addition they starved EKH of funds to do the work they should. TDC are well aware of the lack of compliance with fire safety. It should be remembered that the relevant legislation came in in 2005 , 6 years before EKH was created and so in that period TDC were totally responsible, they can hardly claim to have no knowledge.
      So the organisation that helped EKH fail and was aware of the problems in its housing is going to take it back and do. A better job, anyone worked out how much has been wasted and will be, creating ekh then returning control to tdc and then putting everything right? And it’ll mostly involve the same staff. The only thing it will be is expensive. Leaseholders in particular will be milked dry.

  7. Part of the problem appears to be that spending on these projects goes from the sublime to the ridiculous. One minute its an average of around £150,000 per block – then it suddenly jumps to £2.4m per block !

    The replacement of the external cladding has got to be the item that has most significantly increased the costs but it begs the question as to where all this money is coming from ? Those who lease their flats (as opposed to those who rent them) will automatically be charged the full percentage of the expenditure over which they have no control as TDC has clearly already taken the decision to spend the money.

    Lessees may have an arguable case that they paid for the cladding to be installed the first time round . . .

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