University accommodation across UK investigated over Grenfell cladding fears


Bainfield Halls

Image caption One panel can be seen to have been removed

Student accommodation across the UK is being checked for fire safety issues, following the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Newsbeat has spoken to a number of major providers, to see if any of the housing they offer is at risk because of cladding.

Housing used by Nottingham Trent University students has been flagged by building managers as problematic.

A new build for Northumbria students is also being questioned.

Byron complex

Image caption The Byron residences were opened in 2013

A review of Byron House accommodation, used by Nottingham Trent students, showed that three of the building’s seven blocks were clad using Reynobond PE.

“The safety of our staff and students is of paramount importance to the university and its accommodation partner UPP,” says a Nottingham Trent University spokesman.

“As a precautionary measure UPP and NTU re-accommodated a small number of remaining students in these blocks into alternative rooms while further tests were carried out to determine the exact version of this product.”

The fire service is now involved in deciding an “appropriate course of action”.

Artist impression of The Shield

As reported last week, The Shield, a new accommodation block in Newcastle for Northumbria students is set to open in September, with the same cladding used in Grenfell Tower.

The Shield is owned by a private firm, not the university, but is aimed at Northumbria students.

The block is managed by Fresh Student Living, who do not own the building.

“We are treating this matter with urgency and continuing to liaise with the owners of The Shield and BAM (the construction company), to identify the materials and construction style used and that it meets fire safety requirements,” Jane Crouch, the managing director, said in a statement given to Newsbeat.

We are demanding the government takes immediate action to ensure all halls are included in fire safety checks

Shelley Asquith

NUS Vice President

“We have also contacted the owners of all of the other buildings that we manage where any form of cladding is present, to ask them to confirm the materials used.”

Fresh Student Living manages accommodation in more than 25 cities across Britain.

“We will expect BAM to deliver a compliant building that will meet employer’s requirements and that will include satisfaction on fire risk and protection, which is our main priority for our students,” the organisation says.

“Until and unless we get that satisfaction we will not allow occupation of the building by students and staff.”

Students concerned about their accommodation should contact the team at their chosen building, in the first instance, Fresh Student Living advises.

Remedial work is to be carried out at Bainfield Halls

Image caption Remedial work is to be carried out at Bainfield Halls

Repairs have been ordered to Edinburgh Napier University’s halls of residence after it was found to have the same cladding as the Grenfell Tower block in London .

The university said the cladding was used on about a quarter of the external walls at Bainfield Halls.

However, it said there were non-combustible insulation materials behind the cladding, and that other fire prevention measures are in place.

“Following the tragic disaster at Grenfell Tower, students have contacted us concerned about the safety of their halls of residence,” says NUS Vice President Shelly Asquith.

“We are demanding the government takes immediate action to ensure all halls are included in fire safety checks.

Until and unless we get that satisfaction we will not allow occupation of the building by students and staff

Jane Crouch

Fresh Student Living

“This needs to happen urgently to reassure students due to enrol in September.”

The Student Housing Company, which has residences in cities including Cardiff , Lincoln and Southampton, has yet to respond to Newsbeat’s request for information about their properties.

Another university housing provider, Unite, says they have carried out a full review of their portfolio.

“We are now in a position to confirm that we do not have any properties with the same brand of external cladding as the material used on the Grenfell tower, or indeed any buildings of a comparable structure to Grenfell,” they say in a statement.

“As a proactive measure we will be working alongside specialists to review certain properties across the estate that have external cladding, to ensure that all fire prevention and mitigation measures are in place (such as passive fire stopping).”

Ruins of Grenfell Tower

Prime Minister Theresa May has called for a “national investigation” into cladding on high-rise buildings, following the Grenfell Tower fire.

A public inquiry has already been ordered into the 14 June blaze, which is feared to have left 80 people dead.

The final toll will not be known until at least the end of the year.

While some residents of the 24-storey building in north Kensington managed to escape, others were trapped inside, eyewitnesses said.

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