A leading figure in building safety has commended Salix Homes for its commitment to fire and building safety as the housing association announced the completion of its cladding remediation programme.
Dame Judith Hackitt is Chair of the Industry Safety Steering Group (ISSG) and led the Government’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety following the Grenfell Tower Tragedy in 2017.
In a letter to the Salford-based housing association, she said:
“As a social housing provider, it was clear to the ISSG that you have made a concerted commitment to address building safety. It was evident to us that there is a sense of genuine responsibility to put things right, supported by Salix Homes’ participation in the Early Adopter programme.”
Salix Homes has now completed the multi-million-pound cladding remediation and safety enhancement work across its tower blocks in Salford.
The housing association owns 18 high-rise buildings, eight of which were deemed to have cladding systems that did not meet the Government’s test criteria.
The affected blocks, the majority of which were only partially cladded in aluminium composite material (ACM), included Mulberry, Magnolia and Sycamore Courts in Pendleton, Blackfriar Court, Riverbank Towers and Newbank Towers in Greengate and Arthur Millwood Court and Canon Hussey Court in Islington.
The cladding removal and remediation programme, supported by the Government’s cladding remediation fund, was completed across six of the blocks in autumn 2019 and was last month (April) finished at the remaining two blocks – Arthur Millwood Court and Canon Hussey Court.
Sue Sutton, chief executive at Salix Homes, said:
“The safety and wellbeing of our tenants is the utmost priority for Salix Homes. Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy we moved quickly to enhance safety measures across all our high-rise buildings and raise the bar on building safety, so to be commended by Dame Judith Hackitt is a real testament to our efforts.
“We’ve worked alongside technical experts to develop a permanent solution to replace the affected panels and cladding systems, as well as implement additional safety measures, and we’re pleased to announce that this extensive programme of work has now drawn to a close.
“We appreciate that it’s felt like a long and exhaustive process for residents, particularly those at Canon Hussey Court and Arthur Millwood Court where the complexity of the programme has led to challenges along the way and has been compounded by the Covid crisis, and we’d like to thank residents for their patience and understanding while this essential work has taken place.
“Salix Homes is committed to raising the bar of public safety in all our buildings and our residents can now rest assured that the replacement cladding systems meet the most stringent of safety requirements and the additional safety measures we’ve implemented cement our commitment to delivering the safe and modern homes that everyone deserves.”
Remediation work at Arthur Millwood Court and Canon Hussey Court has been the most complex of the programme, carried out under the shadow of Covid restrictions, and has included the removal and replacement of the defective cladding system, the installation of sprinklers and the refurbishment of communal areas.
New state-of-the-art fire alarm systems have also been fitted at all 18 of Salix Homes’ tower blocks as part of a wider safety enhancement programme.
As one of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) Early Adopters initiative, Salix Homes is playing a key role in championing building safety culture change programmes across the sector.
The housing association has been instrumental in the development of the national Building Safety Charter and the consultation process on the Government’s draft Building Safety Bill, after being selected initially as one of just three housing associations in the country to be part of the Government’s Early Adopters programme to test the recommendations of the Hackitt Review into building safety following the Grenfell tragedy.
This has led to Salix Homes successfully implementing many of the new measures included in the Bill, such as establishing annual building safety inspections to all high-rise buildings and introducing a Mandatory Occurrence Reporting system to allow residents to report building safety issues directly to their landlord.
Ms Sutton added: “As we approach the four-year anniversary of that fateful night of June 14, 2017, we are proud to have implemented and embedded a new standard of building safety, and we will of course continue to develop and raise our standards, working closely with the fire service, the Government, safety experts, and our residents, to ensure all our buildings continue to be safe places to live, both now and in the future.”