Fire safety concerns to be addressed at Northumberland heritage site

Northumberland County Council has granted listed building consent for fire safety improvements at the Grade I listed Prudhoe Castle.

Specifically relating to improvements to fire compartmentation, a planning application was initially submitted in January 2024 by Spence and Dower on behalf of the English Heritage Trust. Prudhoe Town Council also agreed to support the application.

Described as an “architecturally complex site with a complex history”, with parts of the ruined medieval English castle date back to the 12th century, other aspects, including the present manor house, date back to the early 19th century. Listed building consent was sought for “subdivision of the existing plant area to form a new dedicated plant and storage rooms and upgrade existing ceilings and walls to improve fire compartmentation”.

According to Hexham Courant, concerns had been raised regarding the fire safety and compartmentalisation. As outlined in the design access and heritage statement within the application:

"English Heritage has received advice about fire safety and compartmentalisation in the building. This has highlighted significant concerns with this room and the need to make improvements to layout and construction to allow the space to fulfil its current functions.

"At present, the current layout does not meet operational or safety requirements including issues of security, storage, and fire compartmentalisation."

Under the proposed plans, the plant room, which is located on the ground floor of the manor house will be divided to “form a new dedicated plant and storage room”. The application adds that the “requirements are to upgrade the plant area walls and ceilings to one-hour fire resistance, and other walls and doors to half-hour fire resistance”. Additionally, “new doors will be fire doors to suit the fire rating of that partition and match existing as closely as is possible”.

Further details of the proposed fire safety works can be found here.

The application, which was submitted to Northumberland County Council, was given approval on 19 March 2024.