University accommodation in Portsmouth fails fire safety test

The 
Unite Students building in Greetham Street
The Unite Students building in Greetham Street
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A NEW university accommodation tower has become the latest high-rise complex to fail fire safety tests in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Cladding on the Greetham Street building – which was only opened in September – has failed government combustibility tests.

The Southsea site is one of six university accommodation buildings owned by Unite Students to have not met safety standards.

Among the buildings to fail include two others in London, a couple in Leeds and one in Bristol.

All students have been informed by letter and reminded of emergency fire protocol.

A Unite Students spokeswoman said: ‘Safety is our first priority. Based on the advice of experts from the relevant local fire authorities and bearing in mind the wide range of fire prevention measures we have in place, we believe our buildings are safe for occupation.

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Tests launched on Greetham Street building

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‘Over the long term, we’re committed to making sure all our buildings are as safe as possible and will continue working with Government, local fire authorities and other fire safety experts, particularly as the next phase of the Government’s testing scheme progresses.

‘Based on the outcome of this testing and the advice we are given, we will do everything necessary to ensure our buildings remain safe.’

Greetham Street has 60 people living in it at the moment, a Unite spokeswoman said. But there are 836 beds in total.

The company said Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has inspected the property and was happy for it to remain occupied with some minor adjustments.

These will be implemented ‘immediately’ and include moving the communal smoking area from the ground floor and carrying out regular patrols to make sure areas are clear of rubbish or potentially combustible items.

The letter to students added the University of Portsmouth had ‘secured some alternative accommodation for any student wishing to be relocated’.

Further tests are expected to be carried out on the building in due course.

Since the Grenfell fire tragedy, 261 high-rise residential buildings in 57 local authority areas have failed initial tests.

This includes Horatia House and Leamington House in Somers Town, Portsmouth.

As previously reported, an examination of samples from Harding House and Ockendon House, in High Street, Cosham, and Southdown View, in Military Road, Hilsea, also revealed cladding was a risk.

Cladding on these buildings is due to be replaced in the next few months.