Blocks with ‘rooftop extensions’ will be retrofitted with sprinklers

Katherine Johnston (16 June, 2021)

Southwark council will continue rooftop home scheme due to the housing shortage while promising to go 'above and beyond' current fire safety legislation

45378Building work at Chilton Grove

Housing blocks with new storeys added by Southwark Council could come under new fire safety regulations and will be retrofitted with sprinklers, the local authority says.

At a public meeting on the cladding and fire safety scandal held last month, Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP Neil Coyle told his attendees that new legislation could affect planning proposals to build new homes on towers in the borough.

Any over 18 metres high could potentially be put on hold due to the cost of fitting them with sprinklers and other fire safety measures.

However, the council has pledged to continue its rooftop home scheme due to the housing shortage and promised to go above and beyond current legislation to ensure its high rises are safe.

Southwark Council says it has only one active proposal that would see an extension take a block over the height threshold; at Chilton Grove near Surrey Quays.

A spokesperson from the local authority told the News: “This extension was already under construction when the restrictions came into effect which means that there is no requirement to fit sprinklers.

“Nevertheless we will be undertaking a range of fire safety works on all these buildings as part of a package of measures to improve and update the existing blocks and ensure conformance to building control regulations.

“In Southwark, we have had stringent fire safety measures in place for some time.

“As with all our new builds, Chilton Grove will go over and above the standard requirements, in place at the time works began.

“Our other rooftop development proposals are currently planned to be below 18 metres, but this may change in future as the design proposals develop.

“Nevertheless we will be retrofitting sprinklers on all these blocks as part of a package of measures to improve and update the existing blocks.

“We have 15,000 households in need of council housing and providing much-needed new council homes is a priority for us.

“While we welcome the government’s new requirements relating to fire safety in rooftop developments, we require more legislative support from government to enable us to install fire safety systems in leaseholder flats.”

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