SHIRLEY councillors are calling on developers working on the Extracare Retirement village at the former Powergen site to install sprinklers into every individual apartment in light of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
Green Party councillors Tim Hodgson and Maggie Allen, for Shirley West, raised the issue at a full Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council meeting last week.
Under national requirements since 2007, the 13-storey block which is being built on Haslucks Green Road will need a sprinkler system as it will stand more than 30 metres high.
Coun Maggie Allen said: “We have been told that sprinklers are to be fitted in the communal areas of the building and this may satisfy current legislation.
“However, we want to ensure that they are also fitted in the individual apartments and it seems eminently sensible for this to be carried out at the construction stage.
“The building will house elderly and infirm residents and we feel it is our duty to demand the highest safety standards for them.”
When the planning application was approved in 2015 by the Solihull planning committee, developers were told the ExtraCare Village could not be occupied until the building was fitted with an automatic sprinkler system, of a type approved in writing by the council.
Coun Hodgson said: “Shirley residents have understandably expressed concern about fire safety following the terrible tragedy at Grenfell Tower in London.
“Many tower blocks around the country are now being fitted with sprinklers and I am shocked that the council cannot get guarantees from the developer that this block, built mainly to house older people, will have this important safety feature.”
Speaking to The Observer, Hardev Thandy, head of construction development at Extra Care who is working on the former Powergen site, said the team was working with fire engineers to make sure developments comply with all statutory regulations, and will continue to do so.
A statement from The Extra Care Charitable Trust said: “Our residents’ buildings are protected through smoke or heat detectors in every apartment and throughout our communal areas.
“These detectors are linked to staff and also to the fire services who will respond automatically if necessary.
“We construct our residents’ apartments to resist and contain fire.
“Since 2015, all our new buildings are being fitted with sprinkler systems in communal areas. No cladding used in our buildings is similar to the cladding used at Grenfell Tower.
“Given the age and potential frailty of many of our residents, we are advised by the fire services that they should remain within their apartment when an alarm is triggered.
“Evacuation will only take place if required and as part of an organised process led by staff.”