Setting the record straight - large panel blocks structural survey

A story published in the Argus on 8 October reported that a number of council-owned tower blocks in the city are ‘at risk’.

The story refers to surveys on our eight ‘large panel system’ tower blocks carried out by specialist structural engineers Pick Everard. These found the buildings to be in generally good condition with no structural issues.

We need to reassure residents that this article presents the results in a tone that is not in keeping with the findings of the inspections.

No structural issues with the buildings

The surveys were completed in June and found no structural issues with any of the buildings. The reports also stated that the buildings are generally in good structural condition.

The reports did highlight some non-urgent repairs which are being scheduled into our programme of planned maintenance.

We wrote to all residents in these blocks last month to inform them of these results and published redacted versions of all the reports with a summary of the findings.

The Argus article focusses on a couple of the non-urgent repairs we would fully expect a survey of this type to identify.

Non-urgent repair work

The cracks ‘large enough to allow smoke through in the event of a fire’ mentioned in the article are minor cracks identified in service riser ducts. These would simply need to be sealed. 

Work has begun to rectify these and further inspection has shown many to be hairline cracks in the plasterwork which need no further action. We’re expecting any repairs necessary to fix these cracks to be completed by the end of October. 

We have also begun work on the issues identified with loose concrete on St James’s House mentioned in the article. We have made the areas safe and identified the further work that needs be done.

We will be carrying out a fuller inspection of St James’s House to look at any further repairs that may be required and are scheduling this work for next financial year. As mentioned above, there is not a structural issue with St James's House.

Next steps

A report on the survey results is going to next month’s Housing Committee on 13 November with recommendations to carry out further investigations as recommended in the reports. 

We are also proposing to review our procedures and introduce process for five and ten year inspections.

More information