College applies to replace unsafe ‘combustible’ cladding
PUBLISHED: 13:07 25 June 2019 | UPDATED: 13:24 25 June 2019
A college has submitted a planning application to replace cladding deemed unsafe in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.
East Coast College (ECC) has applied to East Suffolk Council for permission to remove "existing combustible ACM cladding material and associated insulation and fire breaks" at its Lowestoft campus on St Peter's Street.
The cladding would be replaced with new "A1-rated rainscreen cladding material, noncombustible insulation and appropriate fire stopping", in accordance with British Standard regulations.
ECC's application follows an audit carried out by Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service watch commander Mark Webster, who inspected the premises six weeks after the fire at Grenfell Tower killed 72 people in June 2017.
His assessment identified a number of deficiencies, among them the suitability of the cladding system on the external facade of the building.
A lack of regular electrical wiring tests, photocopiers obstructing fire escape routes and a lack of automatic fire detection in the industrial kitchen complex were also noted.
In a letter sent to the then Lowestoft College in July 2017, Mr Webster told the provider that its fire risk assessment was "not considered to be 'suitable and sufficient' and must be raised to the standards required.
British Standard tests are designed to examine the suitability of construction products and building materials, assessing them on combustibility, heat levels, flame spread and smoke release.
Once tested, materials are assigned an official Euroclass rating which ranks them on a scale ranging from A1 to F.
A1 materials - the highest performing - are described as non-combustible and have no contribution to causing fire, while F materials are combustible and easily flammable.
The college's application is set to be discussed tonight (June 25) at a meeting of Lowestoft Town Council's planning and environment committee, which will decide whether it should be approved or refused.
The proposal will then be considered by East Suffolk Council and either referred to its planning committee or assessed by senior planning officers.
Earlier this month, it was revealed cladding similar to that of Grenfell was yet to be removed from five Norwich tower blocks - two years on from the tragedy.
Developer Taylor Wimpey says work began last year to remove the cladding on four of the buildings, and should be completed by the end of 2019.