The council has revealed its building control department had not signed off three Newtown tower blocks where external cladding was stripped from the ground floor.
Sanctuary Housing removed cladding from Haygarth Heights, Rowland Heights and Thackeray Towers in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster where a different type of cladding is suspected to have led to rapid fire spread.
Tests had revealed ground floor cladding at the three Newtown blocks was combustible - however, it was sandwiched between inert material with a fire break separating it from the upper floors.
The Chronicle asked Cheshire West and Chester Council whether the Newtown blocks had previously been signed off by building control as compliant with the relevant legislation.
A spokesman responded: “Building regulations approval was sought for the works at the ‘Saints’ properties and Haygarth Heights, Rowland Heights and Thackeray Towers. Building control has evidence of inspections of all properties.”
But he added: “The applicant has confirmed that there was no application for a Completion Certificate for Haygarth Heights, Rowland Heights and Thackeray Towers as work hadn’t been completed. Following the removal of ground floor cladding last week a Completion Certificate was issued. Any further work will require a new application.”
It is unclear whether the issue over the ground floor cladding would have been raised as an issue even if the Completion Certificate had been sought at an earlier stage. The material was removed following tests in the wake of Grenfell after advice was sought from the national advisory body for building control (LABC).
The council spokesperson added: “Agreement was reached with Sanctuary Housing that the cladding at ground floor level would be removed. The form of construction was in no way similar as that used on the tower in Grenfell and did not require any further testing or notification to government.”
Confirming why the three blocks had not been signed off, a spokesperson for Sanctuary Group said: “The contract for these properties had not been completed at that point as the main contractor was still dealing with minor defects. Therefore no application had been made for a Completion Certificate.”
With respect to the safety of Chester’s tower blocks in general, the council said the ‘complete insulated wall systems’ at blocks in Blacon and Newtown were compliant with regulations relating to the performance of external walls of buildings higher than 18m.
The council has also revealed proper procedures were not followed with respect to work carried out at the Blacon tower blocks by Chester and District Housing Trust (CDHT), the predecessor to Sanctuary Housing who took over in 2013.
The council spokesman said: “During the course of our investigations it was discovered that in 2011 CDHT had not followed the appropriate procedure of notifying the council with regard to progression and completion of the works. Upon discovering this irregularity the council brought the matter to the attention of Sanctuary who responded immediately by applying for a Regularisation certificate.
“Following a number of intrusive inspections, witnessed by building control, the construction was found to be satisfactory and a building regulations certificate was issued.”