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Canterbury council demands Tannery developers install sprinklers

By Alex Claridge

Canterbury council has formally called on the owner a block of flats in Canterbury destroyed by fire to install sprinklers in the new building.

The Town and Country Housing Group is nearing the end of the rebuilding work at the Tannery more than two years after a massive fire ripped through the timber-framed block.

In June councillors voted unanimously to urge Town and Country to include sprinklers in the flats at Creine Mill Lane North.

Homes were destroyed and possessions lost in the blaze. Picture: Tony Flashman
Homes were destroyed and possessions lost in the blaze. Picture: Tony Flashman
The Tannery is being rebuilt after the blaze
The Tannery is being rebuilt after the blaze

The issue has gained even greater impetus following the Grenfell Tower inferno the same month. It led to the council looking into installing sprinklers in its three tower blocks.

Chief executive Colin Carmichael has now written to his counterpart at the Town and Country Housing Group, Bob Heapy. His letter says: “As you will know, the council has been very concerned for some time about the question of fire protection in the Tannery development – and particularly in the rebuilding of the area destroyed by fire.

“We are aware that Planning and Building Control regulations have specific requirements and limitations and we are not suggesting that you are not in compliance with those regulations.

Council chief executive Colin Carmichael.
Council chief executive Colin Carmichael.

“We do, however, believe that it would be in the interests of fire safety for you to comply with our strong recommendation.

“I am also aware that our head of planning did make that recommendation to you as part of the discussions you held with us leading to the decision to rebuild the destroyed area.”

Fire spread rapidly through the block on July 4, 2015, sending thick clouds of black smoke into the sky. No one was hurt in the blaze, but the middle section of the block was completely destroyed and later torn down.

Work on the rebuilding of homes started earlier this summer.

Town and Country has refused to comment except to say that it will be responding directly to the council.

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