news

Sanctuary explains why cladding is being removed from Newtown tower blocks

Sanctuary Housing has taken action to ensure 'absolute peace of mind'

A housing association has explained why external cladding is being removed from the ground floors of three Chester tower blocks following the Grenfell Tower disaster.

To date, 79 people are confirmed or presumed dead in the west London blaze tragedy.

Attention has focused on whether the fire spread so quickly because of external cladding which has also been fitted to Sanctuary Housing’s nine high rise blocks in Blacon and Newtown .

Sanctuary offered reassurances that cladding on all its Chester high rise blocks is ‘safe’ but confirmed it has identified concerns around brick-faced cladding at ground floor level on three high rise blocks in Francis Street, Newtown – Haygarth Heights, Thackeray Towers and Rowlands Heights.

Work is taking place to strip brick-effect cladding on the ground floors of three Chester tower blocks in Newtown: Haygarth Heights, Thackeray Towers and Rowlands Heights.

That cladding, which incorporates insulation, is now being removed.

There is similar looking brick-faced cladding at the tower blocks in Blacon and St Anne Street but this appears to have been deemed safe.

A Sanctuary Group spokesperson said: “We can reassure residents that the cladding to all our high rise blocks in Chester is safe and is not the type associated with Grenfell Tower.

“As a result of our additional checks of our buildings in Chester, in conjunction with the council and the fire service , we identified a concern about the brick slips on the ground floor of the three high rise blocks in Francis Street, so for absolute peace of mind, we took the decision to remove it.

Work is taking place to strip brick-effect cladding on the ground floors of three Chester tower blocks in Newtown: Haygarth Heights, Thackeray Towers and Rowlands Heights.

“We understand residents in high rise blocks may feel concerned after the fire at Grenfell Tower; we want to reassure them that their safety is our number one priority.”

Residents of the three affected blocks were sent a letter on Friday which only referred to ‘minor building work’ taking place leading to confusion and anxiety once it became clear cladding was involved.

In a letter to tenants, delivered on Friday, Julie Nundy, operations manager, Chester and North West, said: “This weekend we will be carrying out minor building work to the external ground floor of Thackeray Towers, Rowlands Heights and Haygarth Heights in Francis Street.

“The work is not structural and should not cause much disruption to residents. We anticipate it will be completed by Monday, June 26.”

Work is taking place to strip brick-effect cladding on the ground floors of three Chester tower blocks in Newtown: Haygarth Heights, Thackeray Towers and Rowlands Heights.

Newtown residents, many of whom are elderly, have been unnerved by Grenfell but also Sanctuary’s actions in first offering reassurances then removing cladding with no proper explanation. One Thackeray Towers resident said: “They’ve lied to us.”

Sanctuary told The Chronicle previously that all tower blocks over six storeys would automatically be included in a national review by the government. This meant the blocks at Blacon and Newtown must be checked out.

However, inspections had revealed none featured aluminium composite material of the type used at Grenfell so no samples would be sent off for specialist analysis.

■ Sanctuary has organised meetings for residents concerned about fire safety issues in Chester tower blocks.

The first covers the Saints blocks in Newtown and will take place in the Happy Hour Club in St Anne's at 5pm on Wednesday, July 12.

Then on Thursday, July 13, at 10am, Blacon residents are invited to a meeting at Nant Peris flats while at 4pm on the same day, Francis Street residents will be able to attend a gathering in the meeting room at Rowlands Heights.

View full mobile page