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Fire safety

Sanctuary Housing tower blocks in Chester


Inspections of the nine tower blocks owned by Sanctuary Housing in Chester were carried out on 22 and 23 June by the Council's building control surveyors in conjunction with Sanctuary Housing.

The purpose of the inspections was to confirm that the cladding system and the external insulation used in the construction was non-combustible and therefore safe.

A series of trial holes in the exterior of the buildings revealed that, although in the majority of the towers tested the cladding was considered safe and compliant.

A different insulated cladding system had been used at ground level behind the brick façade at three blocks in Newtown.

Trial holes behind these ground floor level brick panels revealed that a different type of insulation material had been used from that used on the other tower blocks and the upper storeys.

Sanctuary Housing has written to their tenants to reassure them and to advise them of the actions taken.

The technical specification for this different system of cladding insulation raised some questions about its suitability. However, the insulation was completely encapsulated within fire resistant materials and was separated from the rest of the building by the provision of a physical fire proof barrier positioned directly above it.

In the light of the Grenfell tragedy, the Council and Sanctuary Housing jointly sought advice from Local Authority Building Control (LABC), a national body.

This advice has been carefully considered and with residents’ safety paramount, a decision was taken that the insulation product would be removed immediately and replaced with the same fire resistant insulation used in the upper storeys.

It is stressed that the location and form of construction was considered a very low risk to residents’ safety and it is important to understand that the system is completely different from Grenfell Tower.

With the exception of the insulation at ground floor level at the Newtown blocks, the insulation systems used in all nine tower blocks are classified as non-combustible and comply with the appropriate British Standard (BS EN 13501:1).

For further information regarding these buildings please contact: