Fire safety failings means Bristol flats must be rebuilt

The entire top floor of a six-storey block of flats in Bristol will need to be demolished after serious fire safety failings were identified, freeholder Grey GR has confirmed.

Residents living at the six-storey Milliners building in Redcliffe were informed of the decision by the building’s owner, Grey GR, which is part of the RailPen pension fund. As shared by leaseholder-turned-campaigner, Steph Pike on X (formerly Twitter) the company stated that “substantive work” to fix fire safety defects would be required on the top floor of the building:  

When the building was developed, elements of the timber frame and construction were not up to the required standards for fire resistance. This means the ‘SIPS’ timber frame and floor construction is non-compliant with Part B of the Building Regulations in terms of the requisite fire resistance required for buildings over 18m and will require additional remedial works.”

The company added: “In laypersons terms, this part of the building was not built to the required building regulations.”

“Further, the cladding panels that are installed around the sixth floor and the building facade do not meet the designated fire resistance of A2 class. Similarly, behind the stone cladding there is combustible insulation which requires replacement.

As a result of the issues outlined above, extensive work will be required to the sixth floor which is likely to cause significant disruption to residents. We will need to demolish and rebuild the sixth floor of the building as well as replace the facade cladding between floors one and five. We are sorry for the disruption this will cause, but this work is necessary to improve the safety of the building for residents.”

While Grey GR is the current freeholder of the premises, it is understood that the original developer Edenlaw Ltd – which first converted the office building into residential flats – has been dissolved. According to Bristol 24/7, leaseholders were initially informed of the building’s safety defects in 2020, where various issues such as the use of combustible materials and insulation and “incorrectly installed wall cavity barriers and timber balconies” were highlighted. In 2022, the cost of the extensive remedial works for 109 residents was cited at £7.6 million, with leaseholders expected to pay in the region of £70,000 if government funding could not be secured. A waking watch patrol was also implemented at the building, costing £4,500 each week.

Reflecting the concerns of the majority of leaseholders at the residential building, Steph Pike added: “We’re still not sure who is paying.”

Grey GR has confirmed that residents living on the top floor of the six-storey block will need to move out for an “extended period” while work is being carried out. In a statement, the company said: “Grey GR has conducted increasingly intrusive surveys and investigations to understand the extent of the safety issues at The Milliners building.

"The results have revealed significant issues with the construction of the building at the point of original development, with the top floor of the property not built to the required building regulation standards.

"We have appointed a lead contractor to finalise design and implementation plans, and are pleased to be moving into the remediation phase of the project, with expected commencement early next year, pending consent to the relevant planning approvals.

Unfortunately, this means that top floor residents will need to leave their homes for an extended period while the works are carried out. Grey will work with leaseholders to source appropriate alternative accommodation and ensure they are well supported, with accommodation costs covered by Grey.

“We understand that this will cause significant disruption to the residents within the building. The long-term safety of residents in their homes is our priority, and the works are necessary to improving the safety of the building. We are communicating regularly with leaseholders to update them on progress and planned works, and leaseholders have been invited to a meeting with Grey GR to ask further questions.”