Tower Block FAQ's
Grenfell Tower fire action by Preston City Council
Following the tragic incident at Grenfell Tower in June 2017, the City Council, in conjunction with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Services, implemented a swift and thorough inspection and review programme of all residential tower blocks in the City above 18m high.
That programme identified that there were no buildings which were clad in the same type of ACM cladding which had been implicated in the Grenfell incident.
Furthermore, the inspections also confirmed that general fire safety measures in those buildings were either already satisfactory, or required some improvements, which were undertaken and completed to the satisfaction of the Council and Lancashire Fire and Rescue.
The Government were notified of the action taken by the Council immediately following the fire, and the Council have since provided periodic updates to the Government when requested.
However, the Council awaits the final outcome of the Grenfell inquiry, which is likely to result in future changes to both the legislation and the fire safety standards required in such buildings. Since then, the Council continues to work with the Fire service and 18m+ building operators to compel and scrutinise improvements to high rise properties relying on evolving best practice and standards, whilst continuing to participate in the Government Building Safety Programme.
As more information gradually emerges about broader fire safety standards in high rise buildings, the Council will continue to work closely with the Fire Service to monitor both the construction and management of these buildings.
Frequently asked questions
Below is a list of questions relating to Tower Blocks in Preston following the tragic incident in June 2017.
Does the Council own or manage any residential Tower Blocks over 18 metres high?
The Council does not own or manage any such premises.
It owns the freehold of the Limehouse Building on Ring Way. It also owns the Guild Tower adjacent to the Guild Hall which has non-residential use. Both are demised by long lease which confers full property rights on the leaseholder.
As such the Council does not have current or detailed information about the number of residents occupying such buildings, sprinkler systems, evacuation procedures, central alarm systems or the composition of cladding.
What are building regulations and who checks that building works are in compliance with them?
Building regulations set standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure the health and safety for people in or about those buildings.
To apply for building regulation approval, an applicant can use either the Local Authority Building Control section or can apply through a private approved inspector.
Building control bodies check the necessary building regulations are complied with, however it is the responsibility of the person undertaking the work to ensure that the relevant works are compliant.
The council has provided a building control service for 6 out of the 16 residential schemes listed below.
The works themselves must meet the relevant technical requirements in the building regulations and they must not make other fabric, services and fittings less compliant or dangerous than they were before.
Does the Council own any residential buildings under 18 metres high with external cladding?
The Council does not act as a social housing landlord having transferred the remainder of its Housing Stock to a Registered Provider (The Community Gateway Association) in 2005.
As part of its land and property portfolio the Council does own a small number of individual residential properties and work is on-going to assess any external cladding risk on those properties.
How many residential tower blocks over 18 metres high are there in Preston?
Since the Government first asked the Council to identify all buildings over a certain height and in use as residential accommodation, the Council has regularly been reviewing and updating the information it holds. The Government have recently asked for an update, and also asked for other types of buildings e.g. hotels, to be included in the data held by the Council. As a result, the list of buildings falling within the criteria set by Government has been updated.
- Carlisle House, Avenham Lane Estate - owned by Onward Homes
- Cubic House, Birley Street - privately owned
- Holiday Inn, Ring Way
- IQ Kopa, Moor Lane - privately owned
- Lawson Halls, Lawson Street - privately owned
- Lime House, Ring Way - privately operated (Council owns the freehold, see above)
- Lincoln House, Avenham Lane Estate - owned by Onward Homes
- Premier Inn, Fox Street
- Richmond House, Avenham Lane Estate - owned by Onward Homes
- Sandown Court Block 1, Avenham Lane - privately owned
- Sandown Court Block 2, Avenham Lane - privately owned
Looking forward, there will be other 18m+ buildings to add to the list, once they are complete, so the above list will be reviewed and amended as necessary.
Has the Council inspected any residential tower blocks over 18 metres high since the fire at Grenfell Tower?
Within two weeks of the fire occurring, the Council and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Services jointly inspected all residential blocks over 18 metres high, (see list above).
Premises were prioritised for inspection on a risk basis. All 15 blocks from the above list were inspected and none were found to have the ACM cladding used in Grenfell Tower.
Every building operator that we have met, however, has been given the information about testing cladding.
Whose responsibility is it to ensure residential tower blocks are safe in the event there is a fire?
It is the responsibility of building owners and operators to ensure that buildings both meet fire safety standards and are operated in a way that maintains those standards and are used safely.
The responsibility split between owners and operators will depend on how a building is used and managed and the contractual arrangements that are in place for that specific building.
Together with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Services, the Council has regulatory powers to compel building owners and operators to comply with their statutory duties in respect of fire safety. To date the response from the operators of residential tower blocks in Preston has been extremely co-operative with all recognising the importance and urgency of the inspection programme that was undertaken.
Has any cladding from residential tower blocks in Preston been sent to the Government testing facility and what were the results?
The responsibility for submitting samples lies with the building owners and/or operators. The Council does not own any buildings of this type. The Council has passed on information about the testing facility to the operators of local tower blocks over 18 metres high and has written to them all to ask for assurance that samples have been sent for testing where appropriate.
Results from sample testing's are being provided to building owners/operators and to Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.
What correspondence exists between the Council and the Government on the current Fire Safety concerns?
The Council's correspondence with Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) since 13 June 2017 is listed below:
- Request for information from Melanie Dawes DCLG dated 18 June 2017 including return form.
- Letter dated 19 June to DCLG.
- Letter DCLG Guidance on High Rise Building Checks 19 June.
- Letter with further guidance DCLG 22 June 2017.
This information was updated on 7 November 2019.