Cladding has now been replaced at three Newtown tower blocks following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy which claimed the lives of 72 people.
Sanctuary Housing took away cladding on the ground floor levels only at Haygarth Heights, Rowland Heights and Thackeray Towers.
A different type of cladding is suspected to have led to rapid fire spread at Grenfell but Sanctuary took action after tests revealed the ground floor cladding was combustible – however, it was sandwiched between inert material with a fire break separating it from the upper floors.
The Chronicle understands the replacement material involves mineral fibre insulation with a render to match the finish above.
Sanctuary owns a total of nine high rise blocks in Chester. The housing association ran a sprinkler pilot at Rowland Heights in Newtown in 2015. That pilot has now completed and plans are underway to roll out sprinklers to the remaining blocks in Chester and beyond.
And this week Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) revealed there is now 100% sprinkler coverage at its three Ellesmere Port blocks, known as Joseph Groome Towers. Previously some residents had opted not to be part of the system perhaps because of the disruption during installation or fears about the sprinklers being set off accidentally.
Following Grenfell, the council commissioned its housing provider, Forhousing, to complete the sprinkler installation programme. These buildings also have up-to-date fire risk assessments and are not clad with combustible material.
Across the rest of the council’s housing stock, there is a ‘comprehensive approach’ to gas safety, electrical testing and asbestos sampling in place.
In the immediate aftermath of Grenfell, CWaC established a joint working group with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service which has continued to meet regularly to review actions, take on board government advice and review findings from the current public inquiry.
In its role as a landlord to more than 5,500 tenants, the council invests ‘significant resources’ to inspect and maintain properties on an annual basis. The council says it has taken a number of steps to ensure the ongoing safety of tenants and residents.
Councillor Angela Claydon , cabinet member housing, said: “We have been working closely with housing associations across the borough to provide support and to share learning. Multiple inspections have taken place across the entire range of buildings that are owned or managed by the council.”
She added: “If any tenants have concerns about fire safety or any other matter related to health and safety please contact Forhousing. Details about fire safety can be found on the ForHousing website.”