All new flat blocks in Northampton could be made to install sprinkler systems after Grenfell

Council chiefs have been given cross party support to "urgently review" planning guidelines for new flat blocks in Northampton following the Grenfell disaster.

Friday, 14th July 2017, 5:36 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:33 am
St Katherine's Court in Spring Boroughs is set to have sprinklers installed. The borough council has pledged to review its planning guidelines to make the safety systems mandatory.

Councillors from the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats on the authority voted in favour of a joint motion to launch the review at the Guildhall this week.

Northampton partnership Homes, the management company that looks after social homes on behalf of the council, has already agreed to fit its only high rise building, St Katherine's Court, with sprinklers.

But the joint motion on Monday, states the council could make sprinkler systems a planning requirement on all new schemes of five storeys and above.

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The motion reads: "To ensure those in private buildings are also suitably protected, this council resolves to undertake an urgent review of the planning policy with regard to residential developments and provisions for sprinkler systems in all new residential buildings of 5 storeys or above."

The council is also set to consider whether tower blocks in the borough should have "two separate stair cases" to make leaving them safe in the event of a fire.

And NPH will be asked to provide tower block tenants fire safety training sessions.

Lib Dem leader, Councillor Sally Beardsworth (Kingsthorpe) welcomed the fact that all three parties had stopped "banging their heads together" over the matter.

She said: "I think this is good news as everyone in a high rise is a little concerned at the moment.

Labour group leader, Councillor Danielle Stone (Lab, Castle) added: "It was great there was a cross party consensus about installing sprinklers.

"I am particularly keen that a review is undertaken soon about the possible need for two separate stairs cases to exit tower blocks."

The decision to launch the review comes a month after Northamptonshire's chief fire officer Darren Dovey said sprinkler systems should be a mandatory feature of apartment blocks.

He told the Chron: "We can only ask people to do things that are in legislation. We could not impose that people put sprinklers in, for example.

“But we have always said that. In my opinion, when you build new fats they should be fitted with sprinklers.”