Information around Ross House, Folkestone

 

The council acquired Ross House in April 2018 as part of the council's HRA New Build & Acquisition Programme. The property was a former office building which has been converted into 16 x 1 and 2 bedroom flats by a private developer. The works completed were signed off by Building Control, including the fire protection measures in the property.  A fire risk assessment was also completed by an independent assessor on the property prior to acquisition. These assessments did not highlight any problems with works completed.

The fire protection measures for the property are based around a "Stay Put" strategy as advised by Kent Fire & Rescue, with each of the flats stated as being fully compartmentalised with 60 minute protection. Each flat has its own independent smoke and heat detection alarms. In line with regulations there is no fire or smoke alarm system in the communal areas of the property. The Fire Safety Strategy for the building was confirmed with Kent Fire & Rescue prior to residents moving into the flats.

An updated fire risk assessment of the property is ongoing and as part of this East Kent Housing has raised some concerns regarding fire safety. In response a 24 hour security/fire watch presence has been placed in the building to ensure resident safety and to provide further re-assurance whilst the concerns raised by East Kent Housing are fully investigated. EKH has also put an emergency evacuation process in place for the property in case of fire. This approach has been agreed with Kent Fire & Rescue. East Kent Housing Staff have been on site to update residents and to ensure that they fully aware of the emergency evacuation process that has been put in place in case of fire. Residents have also been provided with fire safety advice.

East Kent Housing are currently working closely with the council's Building Control Team to review the fire protection measures and strategy for the property and to agree a long term approach with Kent Fire & Rescue. The council's own surveyor, on secondment and working within East Kent Housing, is overseeing this process. The developer of the property has also given a willing commitment to assist and work with the council and EKH to resolve concerns.

Residents have also raised separate concerns about anti-social behaviour in the property which resulted in damage caused to the communal entrance doors, etc. East Kent Housing have responded on these issues and are currently working to install CCTV in the property. Repairs have also been completed on the two areas of flat roof above two of the entrance halls into the property.

The council is committed to ensuring resident safety in this building and in other council-owned housing across the district and will ensure that these concerns are fully addressed as a priority.