News: Bristol student block fails safety tests conducted in the wake of Grenfell
A Bristol city centre student accommodation block has failed safety tests carried out in the wake of the devastating Grenfell fire.
The building’s owner, Unite, confirmed the cladding used on Waverley House did not meet the standard of limited combustibility in initial tests conducted by the Department of Communities and Local Government.
Serious concerns in the wake of the London blaze that claimed at least 80 lives prompted urgent action from fire and housing authorities and a series of inspections have been taking place on private and council-owned tower blocks across the city.
Waverley House, which corners Crow Lane and Queen Charlotte Street, usually accommodates 208 students, who pay between £135 and £208 per week to live in its rooms and studios flats.
The accommodation is currently unoccupied, but Unite Students has said that based on advice endorsed by the National Fire Chiefs’ Council, it is confident that – subject to some minor adjustments – the building is fit for habitation.
In a statement, the company said: “Safety is our first priority. Based on the advice of experts from the relevant local fire authorities and bearing in mind the wide range of fire prevention measures we have in place, we believe our buildings are safe for occupation.
“Over the long term, we’re committed to making sure all our buildings are as safe as possible and will continue working with government, local fire authorities and other fire safety experts, particularly as the next phase of the government’s testing scheme progresses.
“Based on the outcome of this testing and the advice we are given, we will do everything necessary to ensure our buildings remain safe.”
Waverley House is one of six Unite-owned properties that failed the safety tests, the others are located in Leeds, Portsmouth and London.
In addition to existing prevention and reporting measures, Unite says it will have staff trained in fire safety and evacuation procedures on site 24 hours a day as a precautionary measure.
Students who will be affected by the news have been informed by letter and all have been reminded of emergency procedures.
Bristol City Council has reassured tenants that none of its buildings are clad in the same material as that of the Grenfell Tower, but additional safety checks are being carried out as a precautionary measure and so that concerns of residents can be addressed.
Unite has stated that all of its accommodation adheres to rigorous safety checks and says the additional measures needed will be implemented immediately.
Main photo from University of Bristol website.