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Replacement of ‘potentially dangerous’ cladding delayed again after three-year saga

Manchester Evening News logo Manchester Evening News 09/11/2021 Alice Richardson

The replacement of ‘potentially dangerous’ cladding on Trafford’s social housing tower blocks has been delayed even further.

Work to strip off and replace the ‘potentially unsafe’ cladding on Trafford’s five social housing tower blocks has been ongoing for over three years – but the job is now not expected to be completed until at least later this year.

Housing group Trafford Housing Trust manages the buildings.

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The ACM cladding, the same kind that was on the Grenfell Tower in London before a blaze killed at least 72 people in 2018, was first identified on the Old Trafford blocks and planned for removal two years ago, soon after the tragedy.

The hope had been to complete the work in 2018, but the problem cladding, which was found to cover 15pc of Grafton Court, Clifton Court, Princess Court, Pickford Court and Empress Court, was initially not removed on the advice of Greater Manchester fire chiefs – Trafford Housing Trust bosses told the council last year.

Fire bosses notified the housing association not to remove the cladding, as they believed exposing the polyethylene underneath the aluminium panels was deemed to be ‘more flammable’ and ‘more dangerous’ than leaving it covered over.

But since the cladding was taken off the blocks earlier this year, residents inside have complained about increased heating bills due to a lack of insulation on the outside of the blocks.

Originally the replacement of the cladding was due to be completed in February 2020 – but it has been severely delayed several times.

Now, the estimated completion dates for the cladding replacement for each of the blocks is as follows:

Princess Court – November 25 2021

Empress Court – November 15 2021

Clifford Court – December 9 2021

Grafton Court – December 22 2021

Pickford Court – December 22 2021

In a written update to Trafford council, due to be presented later this week, a spokesperson for Trafford Housing Trust, said: “There has been a combination of factors that have contributed to the recent revision to anticipated completion dates, these include: inclement weather, resource/covid, supply chain, additional works.

a large building: Trafford Housing Trust has apologised for the length of time it has taken to remove the cladding © Resident Trafford Housing Trust has apologised for the length of time it has taken to remove the cladding

“Customers and their safety continue to be at the heart of what we do and why we do it. We have and will continue to regularly engage with and update our customers during and following this programme of work.

“During the pandemic the high-rise living panel has continued to meet on a virtual platform, and we hope to resurrect the face-to-face meetings including an option to attend either in person or virtually, to accommodate our customer preferences, a choice they can make at an individual level and we will support their choices.”

The housing trust then listed 12 additional measures to ensure safety in the buildings that have already or are set to be implemented, including replacement of fire doors and fire alarm upgrades.

The possibility of installing sprinklers in the buildings is also potentially on the cards, but will be subject to future customer consultation, the trust said.

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