Ipswich Waterfront: Orwell Quay Apartments await siding repairs
Apartment buildings on Ipswich’s flagship waterfront are expected to be covered with a mesh-like material while its ‘high-risk’ Grenfell-style cladding is replaced, it can be revealed.
The newspaper’s investigative team revealed fire safety issues at the Orwell Quay complex behind Aurora – which includes apartments at 1, 3, 5 and 7 Anchor Street along 51 Patteson Road – in June of this year.
It has now emerged that a 10 to 12 month project to replace the cladding, now identified as ACM (Aluminum Composite Material) which was partly used on the Grenfell Tower, will use scaffolding nets to protect the buildings.
Project consultants say the proposed material is different from the vinyl wrap, which was used on St Francis Tower in the city center, and will provide a “breathable solution” that lets in natural daylight.
The tenants of the Franciscan Way tower say they live in “prisoner” conditions while the cladding of the 17-storey building is replaced.
Tower management officers, Block Management UK Ltd, who oversee project-related communications, were initially criticized for not responding to residents’ concerns.
The company then said it “understands” that all tenants “were not sufficiently informed” before the plastic wrap was installed and that all occupants would be notified in advance in the future.
Terry Colthorpe, owner of a rental property at 3 Anchor Street, praised the recent communication from his building management officers on the scope and timing of the project.
Samples of the proposed equipment are displayed at the resort’s concierge desk for residents to view and provide feedback.
âThey make sure that the material is compliant and that it is available for viewing down,â Mr. Colthorpe said.
“They’ve been pretty descriptive and keep us updated.”
The complex, owned by Orwell Quay (Ipswich) Management Company Ltd, is managed on behalf of the company by EWS.
In a letter viewed by that newspaper, EWS chiefs said that for blocks less than 18m in the complex, 1, 3 and 5 Anchor Street, a tender was submitted to developers Persimmon in the hope that the work be fully funded.
If successful, they expect ‘boots on the ground’ by the end of October 2021, with work across the development that will involve removing the ACM liner, repairing the firestop material between. the walls and the removal of some balconies to replace the wood decking. .
Two of the blocks – 7 Anchor Street and 51 Patteson Road – measure over 18m and are therefore eligible for government funding for siding repairs.
However, further repairs are needed and EWS is awaiting the results of an appeal to the Building Safety Fund (BSF). Once this has been decided, the works should start at the end of October and last up to a year.
Managing agents state that once the prime contractor is appointed, they intend to hire a liaison who will be able to answer all questions and concerns related to the coating project.
“We understand that residents of Orwell Quay may have concerns about scaffolding nets,” said a spokesperson for EWS.
âTherefore, a sample of the proposed material has been dropped off at the development concierge desk for residents to have a chance to see and give their opinion. “
Company bosses said a consultant working on the project had recently informed them that the “auxiliary protective material” will provide the building with an “exclusive protective layer” throughout the repair work.
“Please note that the proposed material has been selected taking into account both the protective benefits, but also as a breathable solution that allows the transition to natural daylight,” they said.
âThis differs from vinyl wrap, which has been used on other siding remediation jobs and is not considered a suitable solution for these jobs. “
A city deputy “eager” to visit the block
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt, who recently brought the situation at St Francis Tower to the Prime Minister’s attention, hopes to arrange a visit to Orwell Quay to see the material and verify how the project is communicated to tenants and residents .
Officials from the recently renamed Department of Leveling, Housing and Communities are reportedly looking at possible replacement options for the shrink wrap that is “choking” tenants at St Francis Tower after Boris Johnson was alerted to the ordeal.
Ipswich’s central block is the first in the country to receive Â£ 5bn BSF money from the government and Mr Hunt recently expressed frustration that the plastic wrap issue is not gaining national attention.
BMUK management officers previously said the envelope protects the building and workers from the elements. But they said recent meetings with Mr Hunt on the project had been “constructive”.
âOn one level, it’s clearly a good thing that this bloc was among the first to get the money from the TSO,â Hunt said.
“But I have a feeling that if there were St. Francis towers all over the country, it would get a lot more national attention.”
The MP said he plans to hold a debate in the House of Commons to establish a new approach to balance the need for siding replacement work with the mental health and lives of people living in towers.
Alex Dickin of the Ipswich Cladiators campaign group has previously said that if the situation at St Francis Tower were to change, national rules and guidelines had to change first.
The 28-year-old, who also owns a beachfront apartment at Cardinal Lofts, said he had received good comments from members of the group living in Orwell Quay about the proposed netting.
“I think there is a positive outlook and the feedback I have received shows how pretty well things are going at Orwell Quay,” he added.
– Read more of the coverage of the coatings scandal by this newspaper’s investigative team