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6 Jul 2017
Kennedy Gardens, Billingham
After receiving Government advice about the partial aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding at Kennedy Gardens on Friday 23rd June 2017, we responded immediately and mobilised all the resources we could as quickly as possible.
Thirteen staff members immediately went to the site to visit our residents in their own homes to give them updates, help reassure them and give practical advice on minimising fire risks. We have also continued to work closely with Cleveland Fire Brigade.
Contractors were on-site to begin removing the cladding first thing on Monday 26th June and this is continuing.
Scaffolding has been erected, which has had to be designed to ensure that it meets all health and safety legislation and is safe to work from, given the height and scale of the three buildings.
We are currently waiting for guidance from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) regarding a suitable replacement material. We have started to engage with suppliers to research available materials and will be undertaking testing of the building to understand the technical requirements of any new panelling or modification needed to the existing supporting framework.
We have already commissioned an independent investigation into the specification, purchase and installation of the cladding at Kennedy Gardens to determine whether there are any lessons to be learned. We cannot comment any further until this investigation is complete, when we will decide what action we need to take.
Other High-Rise Blocks
None of our other high-rise buildings is clad with ACM. Some high-rise blocks are concrete or brick with external wall insulation and a render finish. The contract information we have on these buildings suggests they are fire rated. However we are putting in place a testing programme as an added precaution to the high-rise buildings with external wall insulation. We are waiting for some additional advice about these tests before starting, as we have seen some contradictory advice.
Low Rise Flats, Houses and Bungalows
A number of our low-rise flats, houses and bungalows have been fitted with external wall insulation (EWI) and a render finish. The materials used in these facades are not the same as those used at Grenfell Tower and are fire rated.
In the event of a fire, residents should follow the standard fire service advice for a fire in a low-rise property, which would be to evacuate the property and call 999 immediately.
If residents have any direct concerns, they should contact us and we can arrange for a home visit if necessary.