WORK is underway to install a new sprinkler system into one of the iconic buildings that make up the Grade II* listed Byker Wall Estate in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Byker Community Trust (BCT) housing association is having the new system retrofitted in the 12-storey high Tom Collins House.
The installation of the new sprinklers is part of a wider programme of modernisation and regeneration works that are being undertaken at Tom Collins House and Mount Pleasant sheltered housing schemes on the Byker Estate.
The schemes will benefit from £1.65 million worth of improvements including full painting and decorating, upgrading of the communal landlord services, including fire safety works, plus other external repairs and improvements to communal gardens.
Work is also underway to replace the external wall panels. The cladding at Tom Collins House is being renewed due to its age and condition, as it is the original cladding from when it was built in the early 1970s.
BCT emphasised that the cladding is not the problematic Aluminium Composite Material (ACM). None of the buildings owned by the organisation are fitted with ACM, which was the same type of cladding installed externally on Grenfell Tower.
All residents living in both sheltered housing schemes were consulted on the plans and the schedule of works that will be undertaken. Listed building consent and planning permission has been granted by Newcastle City Council.
Located within the Byker Wall Estate, Tom Collins House was built between 1975 and 1978 to a masterplan designed by the architect Ralph Erskine and comprises of 39 homes. Mount Pleasant was developed between 1978 and 1980 and consists of 24 homes. All works that are undertaken to the two listed assets will comply with the Byker Heritage Partnership Agreement and Historic England guidelines.
“Since July 2012, BCT has invested £26.7 million worth of improvements and we are still continuing to invest in our estate with these external and communal upgrade works to our two sheltered housing schemes,” said Jill Haley, BCT’s chief executive.
“Despite the fact that it is not a mandatory requirement of current building regulations, the sprinkler system is being installed as an additional safety measure for our tenants.
“We believe that the installation of a retrofit sprinkler system to a high-rise building may be the first in the region since the Grenfell Tower tragedy. There are other schemes in planning but we are not aware of any where the works have actually started on site.”
The external and communal works contract was awarded to Esh Property Services and works are expected to be completed this autumn 2018.