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Housing bodies halt cladding removal amid uncertainty

Two Salford housing associations have halted the removal of cladding from their high-rise blocks.

Both City West Housing Trust and Salix Homes have stopped taking cladding off their tower blocks, with both claiming that government advice around replacement cladding was “unclear”.

Salix Homes had already begun to strip cladding from eight of its residential towers in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire. All eight had been found to have aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding that was non-compliant with government recommendations.

The housing association had planned to remove cladding from the 17-storey Magnolia, Mulberry and Sycamore Court buildings on Broadway Walk in Pendleton, as well as the 16-storey Newbank and Riverbank towers in Greengate. 

Work began last week to strip Canon Hussey Court, Arthur Millwood Court and Blackfriar Court of cladding.

Salix Homes executive director of operations Sue Sutton said: “Advice regarding the removal of cladding is now unclear and there is conflicting information about the need to remove the panels. 

“In line with other housing providers in Salford and across the country, we’ve now halted the removal of further cladding where this work has started until we have clearer guidance from the authorities on the best and safest solution to replace the affected cladding.”

City West Housing Trust, which has tested 12 of its high-rise towers in Eccles, also said it would also suspend the removal of cladding.

Seven of the trust’s 12 properties were found to have cladding that was not compliant with the government’s test criteria.

In a statement, the trust said: ”The advice around ACM panels and cladding systems is now somewhat unclear and until this is clarified we have taken the decision to suspend the removal of affected ACM cladding.

“We will not be starting the removal on any further blocks.

“This will remain the case until we have clearer guidance on the kinds of panels we can use as a replacement and we are certain that removing the affected panels is the best and safest option.”

A government spokesperson said: “The government advice is clear: any tall building where ACM cladding has been identified will have a fire risk assessment by the Fire and Rescue Service.

“Landlords in conjunction with fire services will then take decisions on building safety.

“On top of this, we have appointed a dedicated caseworker to liaise directly with the local authority to ensure they have access to all the current advice and to maintain a dialogue on the progress being made.”

The government yesterday ordered extra tests on cladding and insulation as a “matter of urgency” to check how certain materials behave together in a fire.  

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