Cladding replacement work to be carried out at five council housing blocks

Trove Court and Kennedy House

External wall cladding will be removed and replaced at five Thanet council housing blocks.

The works will be carried out at Trove Court, Kennedy House, Harbour Towers, Staner Court in Ramsgate and Invicta House in Margate.

A change of fire procedures has also been put in place at the Trove and Kennedy blocks in Newcastle Hill with residents now advised to evacuate the building in event of fire rather than to stay inside their homes. This follows guidance from Kent Fire & Rescue Service. The same procedures may be installed at other council blocks if KFRS advise it.

A waking watch is also in place at Trove and Kennedy. This means a 24/7 security patrol on the estate, checking for and removing fire hazards and raising the alarm in the event of a fire. The patrol will also assist the fire service on site with a managed evacuation.

Thanet council has details of residents that would need assistance in the event of an evacuation and the information is shared with KFRS.

Thanet council is also installing new alarm sounders in every flat, and once these have been put in place KFRS has advised that there will no longer be a need to provide the waking watch service.

The external wall insulation systems fitted consist of an insulation board that is fixed directly to the concrete structure with rendering applied to the outside. The installation as a whole is rated as of low combustibility.

As a precaution, to eliminate any risk linked to the insulation board, the council is replacing it with a completely non-combustible system.

Samples were previously taken of the external wall insulation and were submitted to the Building Research Establishment. As it is not Aluminium Composite Cladding it did not fall within the remit of the national testing programme that followed the Grenfell disaster in 2017.

In preparation for a programme of removal and replacement the buildings have been surveyed and results shared with Kent Fire and Rescue Service and the council’s independent fire risk assessors.

A start date for the cladding replacement has not yet been set but the work will go out to tender shortly.

A Thanet council spokesperson said: “A letter has been issued to tenants at Kennedy House and Trove Court in Ramsgate to advise them of precautionary safety measures being taken. There is no cause for alarm and we hope that the steps we are taking will help to provide additional reassurance to our tenants.”

Some £14.5 million was set aside by Thanet council last year to cover a three year fire safety upgrade programme at its housing blocks.

The scheme includes 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 CCTV.

Some £8.9million is being spent on works in 2021-22 and a further £61,000 in 2022-23.

The massive programme, includes redecoration and full structural, electrical and mechanical surveys so any additional essential works can be identified. The programme includes works at Brunswick Court in Ramsgate although the cladding replacement is not necessary at this block.

Several of the blocks have been plagued by deliberate fires in recent years, including Trove Court and Invicta House.

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

11 Comments

  1. Totally absurd to remove a low risk system. A fire requires fuel/heat and air to both start and sustain itself. As the system is at the moment the fuel is encapsulated between the concrete and render, so no way for enough heat to start it to burn or air to get in to start or sustain a fire. The risks are minimal (assuming that what has been said is true) the other measures put in place would be far more beneficial in termsmof protection for the residentsmof the building and should have been done years ago in many instances to comply with the fire safety order act of 2005.
    Where is the money for these works coming from ? If borrowed is it being paid back by council tax payers or out of the housing revenues from rents etc?

    • And, should the worst happen, what would you say if tragedy had overwhelmed dozens of households in a tower block?
      Good to get it sorted.

      • How many of those residents will happily jump into their car or onto a bus that quite literally has a container of flammable liquid built into it, then venture onto the roads in all weather conditions surrounded by other road users? And all without a thought to the risks involved, the cladding on the tdc blocks is far less risky. 13 million would build a very good number of new houses for social rent. Far better use for the money unless of course whats been said is not correct.

        • I’d agree that this decision should be risk based but who is living with the risk? We all take risks but Residents of the Towers have been forced to live in flats encased with a flammable material.
          The “low-combustability” phrase is highly misleading in this context. I tested polystyrene insulation I found at the foot of one of the Ramsgate Towers. It catches alight easily and, once burning, spreads readily.
          As well as this the render covering has been applied to a mesh sheet, this also ignites and burns easily.
          That’s the fuel you need. The air surrounds the blocks and can enter through the many gaps in the render and the spaces where the render fails to fill. That the oxygen.
          The heat could be from arson, some Towers have a long history of this. Otherwise it could be from a fire in a flat that engages the insulation via gaps such as pipes and ducts or around window frames.
          I informed TDC of my findings many months ago. The insulation replacement was already planned before I wrote to them. But it is clear TDC are not acting on the known risks quickly enough or with the correct approach.

  2. I can’t fathom out why the supplier of these faulty products is not liable for. The supply of faulty goods

  3. How many of the flats were sold? If anyone was foolish enough to buy a Lease on one of these flats, they may be being required to pay a contribution of the “apportioned costs”. If so, then normally a leaseholder cannot be forced to pay for “Improvements” only repairs/maintenance, this work does not fall into the latter category. It will depend on whats in their lease though!

  4. How many of the flats were sold? Leaseholders generally are not required to pay for “Improvements” only maintenance and repairs. If leaseholders are being made to pay a contribution towards the costs, they should not be, best look at the lease to see what it says though!

  5. Sadly until grenfell fire disaster. Nobody knew or cared about what was wrapped around the outside of there homes. It’s now opened a Pandoras box. You look at old tower blocks faced with bricks or concrete. Everything about building today is cheap tat. I’ve been a chippy since 1976.nothing surprise me anymore

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