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22 November 2018
More than three years after a fire destroyed and damaged 45 homes in the Old Tannery in Canterbury, Kent, major work to improve fire safety has begun.
Dozens of families and tenants have been relocated to temporary accommodation for eight weeks while ‘construction faults’ are rectified.
The section of 14 homes in the five-storey terrace destroyed or badly damaged by fire was rebuilt by another contractor.
A Kent Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “We have been in touch with the approved building control inspector on behalf of Bellway Homes and have consulted on the plans for the works at the site in relation to compliance with the legislation and guidance.”
Specialists have recommended works to the floors, ceilings and walls in nine blocks.
After the fire broke out in July 2015 a lack of adequate fire protection was quickly suspected.
Bellway Homes insist they complied with all necessary building regulations but, in the aftermath of the blaze, managing agents Town and Country fitted additional smoke detectors to all the remaining homes.
City councillor Michael Dixey said, "It was evident there was something seriously wrong with the construction at the time because of the way the fire spread so rapidly.”
"The trouble is that the current building regulations are inadequate, but I welcome anything which will improve fire safety for those residents."
In 2016, a report about the fire by specialist surveyors, commissioned by Town and Country, identified potential problems with fire separation between the properties, in particular, the cavity barriers.
While there is no statutory requirement for the city council's building control department to inspect or sign off at the stage of cavity walls, due to the fire the council revisited the role of the building control team and have changed practices.