Since the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, the University of West London (UWL) has undertaken a review of all the high-rise buildings it occupies to check on the fire safety of materials used to make up their external facades. This is in line with the Government’s advice that all owners of residential buildings over six stories in height urgently review the fire safety qualities of the external facades of their buildings.
To date no cladding systems have been identified at any UWL building that match the materials used at Grenfell Tower.
While the University does not own any residential buildings, we have been in close contact with the Notting Hill Housing Group (NHHG) about the extensive review they have undertaken of the student accommodation blocks adjoining Paragon House, which are occupied by UWL students. NHHG have confirmed that of the six cladding systems used on the buildings, five systems have passed the fire worthiness test. The sixth panel did not have proper certification and NHHG has taken the decision to replace this panel. This work is now taking place on site. Pending the removal of these panels, NHHG have commissioned 24/7 fire safety patrols.
The review of the non-residential high-rise buildings is ongoing. To date, no cladding systems have been identified at Paragon House which match the materials used at Grenfell Tower. Buildings leased by the University at Villiers House in Ealing and Fountain House in Reading have been surveyed by their owners. Specialist consultants have been employed by the University to review the findings of the surveys and to advise on the plans being proposed by our landlords to enhance fire safety at these buildings.
In addition to the review of the external facades of all buildings, the fire detection and alarm systems at all University buildings are being checked and tested on a regular basis. Fire evacuation drills will also be increased to ensure all students and staff are aware of the exit plans in the event of an emergency evacuation.
The Board of Governors is closely monitoring the UWL review, while the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is tracking the action being taken by all universities to ensure all buildings are safe for students and staff to use. We are confident that the correct measures are being taken to ensure the safety of all staff and students and we will keep our community fully updated on further developments.
Chris FennerDirector of Property Services