Exclusive by Connor Stringer
The company at the centre of the cladding controversy at Lansdowne Point has told BUzz that it disagrees with aspects of the council Improvement Notice and will appeal.
The 16-storey tower block, on Holdenhurst Road, contains ACM (aluminium composite material) which is a type of combustible cladding which was banned on high-rise buildings after the Grenfell tragedy.
During a visit in September 2019, inspectors found “remedial action” was required to address a number of issues, including concerns over the fire doors, sprinkler systems, emergency lighting and fire alarm system.
Hazards within the 393 bedroom block, which is home to 400 residents from a mixture of education providers including Bournemouth University International College, was revealed by BUzz yesterday.
The leaseholders, Kaplan Bournemouth Ltd, have previously stated that some of the cladding covering the exterior is similar to that used at the Grenfell Tower where 79 people died.
But today a spokesperson for Kaplan Living Bournemouth said: “Prior to receiving the notice, Kaplan had already provided assurances to the Council that we would be removing the ACM and HPL cladding.
“We disagree with various other elements of the notice. Kaplan is preparing, along with its relevant experts, an appeal.”
Kaplan Living Bournemouth told BUzz that they could not discuss the contents of the appeal because it is a legal matter.
In another development, Dorset Fire and Rescue Area Manager Seth Why said the Service was “satisfied that the current internal fire safety arrangements are satisfactory”.
They said they continue to work with Kaplan Living Bournemouth and Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council, the lead agency for Lansdowne Point, to ensure the building continues to be safe for occupation.
Kaplan has also told BUzz today that a number of points regarding the “critical hazards” listed in the Improvement Notice “required clarification”. Kaplan say:
- The plans to remove and replace the ACM and HPL panels are well-advanced and a tender has already gone out for the works to be carried out.
- Three sprinklers were found to need repair and this was done at the end of 2019. There are many hundreds of sprinklers in the building.
- The emergency lighting was not tested during the inspection and is in good working order.
- There are over 600 fire doors in the property and during the inspection by the Council, 15 were identified as requiring refitting. These doors are currently being refitted.
- The gasket mentioned in the inspection report is a visual design element to the façade and not structural. Kaplan carry out regular visual inspections of the façade and make repairs as needed.
Meetings were held throughout Wednesday during which Lansdowne Point residents met representatives of Kaplan Living and given the option to leave the building ahead of noise disruption as contractors remove the cladding.
Dorset Fire and Rescue Area Manager Mr Why said: “Following the Grenfell Tower fire, we have inspected all high rise residential premises across our service area. This included Lansdowne Point where our firefighters and control staff are familiar with the evacuation arrangements.”
He added: “Staff and residents will be aware that we have recently carried out live operational training at the building to test our emergency response and the buildings evacuation procedures.
“I am pleased to say that these training exercises were successful with effective partnership working between DWFRS and the on site management.
“The recent exercise is one of a series of programmed exercises across Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole designed to test emergency arrangements in high rise buildings. The Service is grateful to the Students of Bournemouth University for their assistance and patience on a rainy night to allow us to hold a realistic exercise on the building.”
Kaplan have 21 days from the serving of the notice to make their appeal to a Residential Property Tribunal.
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