Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Fire safety a top priority in high rise flats

A new sprinkler system is being installed in a high rise social housing block as part of a drive to improve fire safety for residents.

The installation of the retro-fit fire sprinkler system at Marsden Court, Leeds, is the only one in West Yorkshire, and will ensure the highest level of protection to all residents and substantially reduce damage to buildings in the event of a fire.

Retro-fitting involves a sprinkler system being installed in existing older buildings rather than during the construction stages of a building.

Following the installation of the sprinkler system in the block, which includes 71 flats, a city-wide review of all high rise blocks will take place to determine if it is feasible to install in other blocks throughout the city.

As well as the sprinkler system, low level signs indicating floor levels and exits are also being installed which would help people find their way out in the event of smoke-logged corridors and assist fire fighting.

Two residents volunteered to be the first to have the system installed.

Margaret Adamson, one tenant in Marsden Court said:

“I knew they had to try it out in one of the flats to know that it would work and I was more than happy to let them use mine for the trial. I’m pleased it’s been completed, I now have peace of mind knowing the system will kick in if a fire was to start.”

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:

“The safety of our residents is a top priority for the council and we want to make sure we are offering the best possible fire protection.

“I would like to thank the two residents who agreed to taking part in the trial and offering for their properties to have the new technology installed first.”

Dave Walton, Assistant Chief Officer for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said:

“High rise social housing blocks create a number of specific and unique fire safety and fire fighting challenges that may not exist in other properties. Recent tragedies involving the loss of Firefighters’ lives in high rise premises in other parts of England have generated many lessons to be learned.

“The fact that Leeds City Council is undertaking this project shows that lessons are being learned in order to prevent such events happening in the future.”

Notes to editors:

Background from West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS):

Following the deaths of two Firefighters in a high rise block of flats in Southampton in 2010, the Coroner made a number of national recommendations under Rule 43.
The following two are of particular importance to housing associations.

There should be an obligation to:

• provide signage to indicate floor levels both in stairwells and lift lobbies in high-rise premises, to assist the emergency services.
• consider the retro-fitting of sprinklers in all existing high rise buildings in excess of 30m in height for social housing providers.

To discuss the fitting of sprinkler systems contact WYFRS Head of Fire Engineering Planning & Licensing, Nigel Charlston on 01274 473896.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450

Vision for future of Leeds announced

Picture captions: (top) Leeds railway station is the busiest in the north of England (bottom) HS2 would provide much needed extra capacity on the region's rail system bringing many economic opportunities.  

Leeds City Council has unveiled ambitious plans for the future of the city using HS2 as a catalyst for visionary developments on a scale never before seen in Leeds.

Plans would see an iconic new rail station built on the south bank representing a stunning keystone in the regeneration of the area, which at 136 hectares will be one of the biggest regeneration projects in Europe.

The significant regeneration scheme of south bank, comprising Holbeck urban village, areas around the old Tetley brewery and Leeds Dock, would deliver 250,000sqm of employment land with the potential to deliver 20,000 new jobs and 5,000 new homes.

It is thought when fully developed the area could rival the bustling north bank, which contains the civic, university, arena and retail quarters as well as Trinity Leeds.

Plans would also mean development of an innovative integrated public transport network with seamless interchange from the new station to trolley-buses, buses, the original main line, taxis and cycle routes spiralling prosperity out from the city centre.

Leeds City Council executive member for the economy and development councillor Richard Lewis, said:

“We are committed to delivering a prestigious new railway station on the city’s south bank. It will provide an exciting new focus for our plans in the surrounding area, forming one of the largest regeneration projects in Europe.

“The arrival of HS2 will reshape the city. There are huge opportunities in the south bank for people to both work and live and HS2 will therefore add to the momentum that is already being generated for this part of the city. Not only will it create jobs, housing and investment, a step-change will also be made in the way all of our transport works.

“It will free up capacity on existing rail lines bringing the opportunity to reshape the whole network, and create much needed extra capacity to support economic growth in Leeds and the city region. It will also provide the chance to revisit all of our transport provision, not just rail networks.

“In all, HS2 presents a great opportunity to rebalance Leeds and bring new prosperity to existing communities, ensuring they are fully connected to the city as a whole.”

Leeds experienced the fastest jobs growth between 2001 and 2008 of all the eight largest cities in England outside London. Leeds is currently the busiest railways station in the north of England with over 900 trains and 100,000 passengers daily and those figures are set to rise.

The visionary proposals have found favour with important local businesses who understand the potential it represents.

Gerald Jennings of Land Securities the developer behind Trinity Leeds said:

“Our antiquated rail system is groaning under current pressure of passengers. Just attempting to patch up the old network is not good enough. The increased capacity that only HS2 can provide is needed for the Leeds labour market to function connecting people to jobs, and allowing businesses to access the workforce.

“I believe that HS2 is a hugely important strategic investment that will bring a wide range of benefits by acting as a catalyst for growth and helping to rebalance the economy between north and south.”

Andrew Latchmore, partner of Shulmans solicitors and chairman of the Leeds Property Forum said:

“The Leeds south bank represents one of the most existing development opportunities in the UK today. The Leeds property community will welcome any initiative the council takes to seize this opportunity. The planned arrival of HS2 should throw the spotlight on south Leeds and act as a spur to achieving the area’s enormous potential.”

Richard Lewis of property investor Town Centre Securities said:

“We must be bold and deliver a world-class railway of which as a city we can be extremely proud. This is an essential development that will greatly benefit future generations but we must act now to be part of it.”

On the back of a far reaching central Government consultation, which closed on January 31, the council has made public for the first time details of its plans a for high-speed railway which is now available at

For media enquiries please contact:
Dan Johnson,
Leeds City Council press office,
Tel 0113 247 5472