Green light for fire-safe Mount Wise Towers plans  

Plymouth Community Homes (PCH) today received the news that plans for a new non-combustible external wall covering for the Mount Wise Towers in Devonport have been approved by Plymouth City Council.

A green light for the planning application allows work to begin to remove and replace the existing ACM rain-screen cladding panels, which failed Government fire safety tests following the Grenfell Tower fire last year.

PCH will replace the cladding with EWI (external wall insulation) after assessing the different possibilities with construction experts and Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service to determine the safest and best option for the blocks. They will also be installing new flat roofs with cradles to enable the ongoing maintenance of the new EWI and brightening the outside of the blocks with a fresh new design, which has been chosen by residents.

John Clark, Chief Executive for PCH, said: “We’re delighted the Council has approved our plans for the Towers because it means we can continue with the works we promised our residents, including work which is underway to install sprinklers and now removing and replacing the cladding.

“We’ve taken great care to choose products with the highest fire safety standards, following advice from construction and fire safety experts, because the ongoing safety of our residents is our top priority.” 

Councillor Tudor Evans, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said: "The granting of this planning permission puts us yet another step towards the complete recladding of the Mount Wise towers. I want to thank Luke Pollard MP, Councillor Mark Coker and his Devonport Ward colleagues Councillor Bill Stevens and Councillor Kate Taylor, and local people for all their tireless efforts in helping us get this far.

“We promised that we would continue to lobby the government for the money to re-clad the towers and that pressure has led to Government assurances that the cash will arrive soon. However, our job is not done just yet and we will not rest until that money has arrived in Plymouth and all works are complete."

Mr Clark also confirmed that PCH has submitted its bid for Government funding for the works, following the announcement by the Prime Minister that works for the removal and replacement of cladding would be fully funded.

Mr Clark said: “We’ve completed the necessary paperwork required for the funding bid submission and are now awaiting approval by the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). The decision by the Government to fully fund these works means we can continue to invest in developing and improving social and affordable housing for people in the city, at the same time as upgrading the Towers to meet with the new fire safety standards.”

The total cost of works at the Towers is estimated to cost c£14.5M and will take up to 18 months to complete, depending on availability of material and labour. Mi-space have been appointed as the main contractor for the works and will be supported by PCH Manufacturing for the removal and replacement of windows.

Mr Clark continued: “It’s great that work can now begin after what has been a complicated and difficult process to find a suitable replacement for the cladding. In the meantime, the Towers remain safe for our residents to occupy – sprinklers are now operational in communal areas and installation in flats will be complete by winter, properties are fitted with 60 minute fire doors, there is additional fire protection fitted in stairwells and smoke/heat detectors and alarms throughout.

“As always I’d like to say a huge thank you to our residents for their understanding and support. They’ve been brilliant, as have Plymouth City Council, our local councillors, MPs and partners in the Fire Service.”