Brennan Bank – fire safety update

Broadland Housing has acted swiftly to ensure the safety of tenants, following the Grenfell Tower fire.

Following testing by the Building Research Establishment on Friday 23 June, a sample of cladding from Broadland Housing’s Brennan Bank on Geoffrey Watling Way was found to be a current cause for concern in high-rise buildings, although it compares with building regulations and has been used in accordance with the approved plans.

Although Broadland Housing only has medium-rise properties (of six storeys or fewer), it immediately called an review meeting. This was held at its offices today (Saturday 24 June) with representatives from Broadland Housing, Norwich City Council, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, developer Taylor Wimpey and managing agents of the adjacent blocks.

The review meeting today discussed the safety implications of the cladding and reviewed the fire risk assessments for all the blocks in question.

The review concluded that the risks posed by the cladding can be mitigated by remedial action in the short term. A letter has been delivered to residents of the affected blocks today, informing them that:

  • A trained warden will be employed to inspect the blocks and reassure and advise residents about fire safety, 24/7.
  • Advice has been provided to residents about fire safety in their homes and in the communal areas. Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service will also offer residents home fire safety checks.
  • In the interim, and until further notice, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service has strongly recommended that the current evacuation policy to ‘stay put’ is replaced by a policy to ‘evacuate immediately’ in the case of a fire.
  • In the interim, parking under the blocks will be suspended and alternative parking arrangements will be made for residents.

Developer Taylor Wimpey has given the same advice to residents of its private apartments in neighbouring buildings, which are of the same construction.

“Although we don’t have any high-rise properties, only medium-rise, we wanted to put additional measures in place to reassure our tenants,” explained Louise Archer, Executive Property Director, Broadland Housing.

James Belcher, Head of Planning at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We have been providing advice to Broadland Housing Association, Taylor Wimpey and the managing agents of adjacent blocks, and having reviewed their fire risk assessments, have agreed how the risk of a fire starting in these buildings could be reduced even further.

“We are confident in the additional measures that will be put in place to help keep residents safe. As an additional precaution, we have also made sure that in the event of a fire at these buildings, we would be able to respond with extra fire engines. I understand residents may still have concerns so fire service officers have have been going door to door in these buildings today giving advice and reassurance, answering questions and leaving contact details in case anyone wants to book a home fire risk check.”

Broadland Housing complied with a request from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) for all councils and housing associations to submit information about any buildings of six storeys and above that they own or manage.

Any organisations that reported that they had cladding of any kind on their buildings were subsequently asked to submit a sample to the Building Research Establishment. Broadland Housing complied with that request, and late on Friday 23 June, it was informed by the DCLG that the cladding which had been tested on Brennan Bank was a current cause for concern. 

The review meeting today held at the offices of Broadland Housing took these findings seriously and acted swiftly, following the guidance of the DCLG.

Watch Group Chief Executive Michael Newey being interviewed on Norfolk Now TV report (26 June)