Tests after Doncaster block of flats found to contain materials 'similar' to Grenfell Tower

Tests are under way at a Doncaster block of flats after materials "similar" to those used at London's fire hit Grenfell Tower were found.

Thursday, 22nd June 2017, 11:10 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:42 am
Silverwood House in Doncaster.

Window sills at Silverwood House, which is on the Balby Bridge flats complex, are understood to be being tested in the wake of the tragedy in London which has left a total of 79 people either dead or missing presumed dead.

Samples have been sent for testing after it was realised that they are "similar" to those used on the Kensington tower block which was engulfed in flames in a matter of minutes last week.

Doncaster Council officials have reassured residents in the 1960s built block in Elsworthy Close that there is little chance of a similar fire as it would be "harder for the flames to spread."

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A spokesman said: "The local authority has been working with its housing provider, St Leger Homes, and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue to assess what potential risks needed to be addressed.

"So far there have not been any identified, however work continues on assessing council homes as the focus also turns to other buildings that are owned by the council.

"The review is assessing every council building, including schools, community centres, residential and commercial, to ensure that fire safety systems are in place and operational. Council staff have already begun this process, which is being treated as a priority. The checks will be in addition to the annual fire safety checks which take place at all council buildings.

"As part of the review, there will also be an assessment of the cladding on council buildings, following concerns that the specific type of cladding at Grenfell Tower might have contributed to the spread of the fire.

"Tests will be carried out to confirm the fire retardant properties of the materials used on buildings in Doncaster.

St Leger Homes has also reassured residents living in high-rise accommodation that the cladding system used on their buildings is different to that on Grenfell Tower, and that regular checks of fire alarm systems take place across the properties.The council and St Leger Homes are working in partnership with other organisations as well as local MPs and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue to reassure residents."

However, some residents have admitted the discovery has left them feeling worried and one said: "I'm a little nervous I have to say.

"I was so happy when we got the new windows done and everything was hunky-dory but since what happened at Grenfell are we safe or are any high rises safe?"

Silverwood House underwent a £1.9 million renovation in 2015 with the installation of thermal render and window replacements.

Speaking at the time, councillor for Regeneration and Transportation Joe Blackham said: “It’s the right thing to do for our residents.

"I’m extremely supportive of this in principle, we need to look at the funding available, but I 100 per cent support it.”

Between 2003 and 2004, £2.5 million was spent upgrading the external appearance of Silverwood House, which was built in the 1960s.

The block comprises 129 flats spread over 17 floors, and most of the residents are elderly.

Director of Regeneration and Environment, Peter Dale, said: “All local authorities have a responsibility to look at their building stock and make sure the people using those buildings are safe, and that fire regulations are being followed. After the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, we will carry out another review of our buildings to reassure residents and staff that fire safety is an absolute priority.”