Living in high rise buildings

23 June 2017

Statement from Coun Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport:

"The fire at Grenfell Tower has shocked the whole country. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We immediately started work to check that our own district and residents are safe. Even though the council doesn’t own or manage any high rise social housing buildings, their tenants are all Bradford residents. We therefore have been proactive on the issue, working with landlords, including the main social housing provider in Bradford, Incommunities, to help them to review their records of refurbishment, so they can respond to the Government’s request for information from them.

"All the tallest buildings in the district - six storeys and above - have been identified and are being assessed as a priority along with the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, and we have written to the owners/managers of tall private sector buildings in the district to tell them of the Government testing regime so they are clear that they should have the cladding tested and that it is free of charge.

"We are working closely with colleagues at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and we will continue to respond to any advice from them."

Does Bradford Council own or manage any high rise buildings in the Bradford district?

The Council transferred all of its social housing to Incommunities (formerly Bradford Community Housing Trust) in 2003. Incommunities are a not for profit registered housing provider which continues to own and manage all former council housing in Bradford. This includes a number of high rise properties. High rise properties are buildings that are more than 18 metres or six storeys high.

However, the Council still retains the freehold interest in three residential high rise buildings, where ground leases have been granted. This is where the Council has granted a long ground lease (say a 150 years) to a developer to build a property and this is now owned by an investor, who is responsible for the building structure and will directly manage the building and any lettings.

These are the Wardley Centre - providing student accommodation managed by Sanctuary Housing, where it has been confirmed that the cladding is not aluminium, Ivebridge House on Market Street, which has no cladding - and Landmark House, on Broadway. Landmark House is a multi-use seven storey high building in the city centre which has a combination of retail units, offices and apartments and which does have aluminium cladding. The Council is liaising with the head tenant, who hold a 150 year ground lease from the Council, the occupiers and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to ensure that any potential fire risks are being mitigated.

Since 2010 the Council has developed and now owns a small amount of new council housing but none of this is in high rise buildings.

We have what is called a Fire Protection Concordat with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and Incommunities. The concordat was recently reviewed in 2017, and outlines the approach taken to ensure fire safety in the high rise properties that Incommunities own and manage.

What are you doing as a result of the Grenfell Tower fire?

We, along with our partners, have already taken a number of actions to reassure concerned residents that our highest priority always has been and always will be their safety.

We will also continue to work with the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service on reviewing our policies and practices in light of any information and learning from the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Do you have concerns about any cladding on high rise buildings in the district?

The building owners of Landmark House, which is seven storeys high and is situated in Broadway in Bradford city centre, have been advised that the building has failed a Government fire safety test on its cladding after a sample was sent off. Our housing and building control staff immediately met with the fire service, the head tenant and management company to further assess the situation.

The block consists of ground floor shops and commercial units plus 91 apartments, with vacant office accommodation on the first floor. It has been agreed with the WYFRS that there is no need to immediately evacuate the premises due to the precautions and interim procedures that are in place. The head tenant, building owner, will ensure all the fire procedure notices are accurate and engage with the tenants so they fully understand how to proceed in the event of a fire.

Residents all have smoke alarms present in their flats which they need to check are working on a regular basis. There is also a common alarm system which if activated, triggers a full evacuation. All the residents are being informed about these safety measures.

How are you working with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS)?

We have a very good working relationship with WYFRS.  A Fire Protection Policy has been agreed between WYFRS and all the West Yorkshire Councils which outlines the enforcement responsibilities for high rise properties regardless of ownership.  

The Council Leader, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe and the Portfolio Holder for Housing, Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, have spoken to the Chief of the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, John Roberts, to discuss what joint actions can be taken in Bradford to ensure fire safety and keep residents safe in their homes.

We will continue to work with WYFRS to review policies and practices to reflect recommendations made following the outcome of any investigation, official government advice and public inquiry called by the Prime Minister.

How are you working with the UK government on fire safety in high rises?

We are co-operating fully with the UK government as part of its nationwide inquiry and providing any information that they require from us and our partners.

We will continue to review policies and practices to reflect recommendations made following the outcome of any investigation, official government advice and public inquiry called by the Prime Minister.

What is the council doing for private sector owned high rise buildings?

We will continue to work with building owners and managers to ensure that residents are as safe as they can be.

Will you be providing any further information to tenants living in high rise buildings?

If you are a tenant living in a high rise building in Bradford you should first contact your landlord for their advice regarding the accommodation that you are living in.

We will continue to work with Incommunities, WYFRS and other partners to ensure that information is made available to residents.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service have issued a statement http://www.westyorksfire.gov.uk/news/advice-to-concerned-residents-living-in-high-rise-buildings-in-west-yorkshire/

Incommunities has advised the Council that:

“We are currently writing to all our customers living in our high rise blocks to reassure them that their safety is our priority as their landlord. We regularly provide fire safety advice for our customers using our tenant newsletter, social media and internet and will continue to keep customers up-to-date.

“We work closely with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to ensure we continue to provide the highest standards of safety for our customers. We will monitor the outcome of the subsequent investigation into the fire and, if required, review our procedures and advise our customers accordingly.

“We would urge any customers who have any concerns or would like a fire safety home visit to contact Incommunities’ Fire Safety Team on 01274 257256.”

As new information becomes available or questions asked, we will be updating this page.

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This page was last updated on :
Mon, Jul 24, 2017 at 01:54 PM

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