New panels fitted to Sunderland tower blocks following Grenfell Tower disaster

Workers begin fitting the new cladding.
Workers begin fitting the new cladding.

Workers have begun installing new panels on high-rise flats in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower inferno.

Safety tests following the London tragedy, in which 71 people died last June, revealed that cladding on the side of five Sunderland blocks were below nationwide standards.

Two of the five blocks where work will take place.

Two of the five blocks where work will take place.

While the decorative panels were different to those used at Grenfell Tower, in Kensington, they were still swiftly removed by property owner Gentoo.

Replacements are now being fitted to the Church Street, Dock Street, Zetland, Victor and Dame Dorothy blocks

Graham Gowland, executive director of property at Gentoo group, said: “Following the Grenfell Tower fire and the subsequent Government testing of cladding on high-rise blocks, we took the decision to immediately remove a small amount of decorative panels from five high-rise blocks in the St Peter’s area of the city.

“We have continued to keep our customers informed whilst we investigated an appropriate replacement.

“The replacement solution is now being fitted on these five blocks and is a mix of render and cladding.

"We are using a fully non-combustible system which meets all requirements of building regulations and passes the Government’s fire safety tests.”

Following last June's tragedy, residents in Sunderland's tower blocks were visited by housing officials to ease any fears they might have had.

Gentoo stressed it also worked very closely with the city's fire brigade and that crews often used the flats for fire-fighting exercises.

The company said it also had a concierge service that residents could contact 24 hours a day and that anyone with a disability was never housed above the fourth floor.

The flats’ fire alarms are also linked into a control room so someone is alerted if a blaze begins.