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Fire safety fears as Unite student halls in Wembley ‘fails second round of cladding tests’

PUBLISHED: 17:09 17 August 2017

Unite halls of residence on Olympic Way in Wembley

Unite halls of residence on Olympic Way in Wembley

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A Wembley halls of residence has failed a second round of testing on its cladding, compounding fears that the building could be at serious risk of a Grenfell-style inferno if the cladding is not replaced.

In the wake of the catastrophic Grenfell tower fire in Kensington in June, cladding used on high-rise buildings across the country has been fire-tested in a series of tests carried out by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

And in test results published on the DCLG website on August 8, the cladding used at Unite Student Halls on 25 Olympic Way was found to have failed a secondary test.- though the landlord claims not to have been told of this latest development.

“The government’s expert panel advises that the results show that the combination of materials used in the test does not meet current Building Regulations guidance,” the results read.

This contradicts a statement on Unite’s own website, which refers only to the initial tests that took place in early July.

“Samples of cladding from six Unite properties [including Olympic Way] have not met the initial test’s standard of ‘limited combustibility’,” the statement reads.

In a letter sent last week to councillors and seen by the Brent & Kilburn Times, a Brent Council officer states: “We have just been alerted that Unite Student Halls on 25 Olympic Way has failed the latest cladding test undertaken by BRE over the weekend [of August 5-6]. The wall system ... was shown as inadequate in resisting the spread of fire over the wall.”

But a Unite spokesperson told the Times this week that the landlord had not been informed that the cladding had failed further testing.

“DCLG has not informed us of any [further] test results that relate to our Olympic Way property,” the spokesperson said.

When contacted, DCLG was unable to provide information regarding regarding specific buildings or local authority areas.

DCLG’s guidance states that even when a building’s cladding-type fails fire-safety tests, it may remain safe to live in if deemed so by a ‘qualified engineer with relevant experience in fire safety’.

But with continued questions over the safety of high-rise blocks, there will be heavy pressure on Unite to replace the unsafe cladding.

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