Cladding Concerns in Manchester
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Cladding Concerns in Manchester

Cladding concerns post-Grenfell for Manchester residents

It’s over a year since the world was left in shock by the Grenfell disaster, and residents of tower blocks all over the country, including Manchester, still have many cladding concerns in the wake of the event.

We look at these fears and uncover the work that Manchester City Council is doing to address these issues and make apartment blocks as safe as possible for residents.

Are resident’s concerns justified?

There are 36 council-owned apartment blocks in Manchester, and the city council should be applauded for moving quickly to do everything possible to ensure they’re safe for residents. Fire risk assessments were immediately reviewed in conjunction with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and the council’s property management partners, and it was discovered that none of their blocks was clad in aluminium composite material (AMC) – the cladding that led to the Grenfell disaster.

Unfortunately, the story isn’t the same for some other apartment blocks in Greater Manchester, with a total of 17 blocks found to be clad in AMC. The good news is that the owners and property management companies in charge of these blocks have generally agreed to make changes as quickly as possible, but, in some cases, it’s either not quickly enough for the residents to feel safe, or the owners have offset costs via service charges.

Residents are still fighting

Residents at Manchester tower blocks, Vallea and Cypress Place, have been taken to a tribunal by the owners in an attempt to reclaim the costs of the cladding through service charges. The leaseholders believe that the buildings are now unsafe to live in – according to this Twitter account set up by concerned Manchester residents and some of the fire safety reports they’ve seen – so the cost should be met by the owners. This is a view also held by the government, who urged owners of buildings clad in AMC to do the right thing and foot the bill – although, so far, it’s stopped short of demanding that they do so.

With another block of flats in West Hampstead recently going up in flames (fortunately without injury), these delays are doing nothing to reduce the Manchester resident’s anxieties as the process takes longer and longer to reach a conclusion. Whatever the outcome, we hope that it’s resolved quickly for all parties, and we’ll watch this story with interest.

With so many apartment blocks countrywide it’s no surprise that some cladding concerns are not being dealt with effectively and efficiently. Some Manchester tower block owners are still awaiting advice on exactly what to replace their dangerous cladding with, and this is causing tension for the leaseholders. Manchester council have, again, been proactive in setting up task forces to share information on best practices and try to allay local resident’s fears.

This complex issue is likely to rumble on for a while yet, but we’re glad to see these very reasonable cladding concerns are being taken seriously by the government and vast majority of owners and management companies alike.