Minister asks Scottish RSLs to undertake urgent review of tower block stock

The Seaton tower blocks in Aberdeen
The Seaton tower blocks in Aberdeen

The Scottish Government has urged all Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) in the country to provide tower block stock information to assist a ministerial review of Scottish regulations in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in West London.

In a letter seen by Scottish Housing News which has been sent to all local authority chief executives, housing minister Kevin Stewart said while he is aware that many are undertaking or planning a review of current safety procedures and assessing building stock, he requested that they review the position in their area “as soon as possible”.

The government will convene a short term ministerial working group to review Scottish regulations and is ready to take immediate action if deemed necessary, he added.

The letter, which was also sent to the chief executives of COSLA, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations (WGSF), the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (SOLACE) as well as many housing association chief executives, requested that councils liaise with all RSLs within their local authority geographical area to collate the information.

In particular the minister requested that they:

  • identify all the high rise domestic buildings (those that have a floor which is more than 18 metres above ground level);
  • ascertain the original construction; and
  • establish if any remedial works (such as overcladding) have been carried out, and if so, identify the materials and construction techniques used.

At least 17 people have now been confirmed dead with dozens more fatalities expected after a blaze broke out at the 24-storey tower in West London in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Yesterday SHN reported that a number of social landlords across Scotland moved to reassure residents of their respective tower blocks following the fire and many more have followed suit.

In the letter Mr Stewart writes: “I am sure that like me you have been saddened and shocked by the tragic fire at the Grenfell Tower in London. In my role as minister responsible for local government, housing and building standards, I am determined that, if necessary, we are in a position to be able to take appropriate action as soon as possible.

“I acknowledge that there is currently much speculation in the media about the fire, and I must be clear that there is no definitive conformation on the building products used, the causes of the fire or its spread at this stage. I understand UK ministers will be looking for a full investigation and we will be informed of the findings that emerge in due course. Here in Scotland, the cabinet secretary for communities, social security and equalities will convene a short term ministerial working (group) to review Scottish regulations, ensuring they are robust and that we take any actions necessary as we learn lessons from this catastrophic event.”

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