Arborfield Green fire: Reassurance for borough’s renters

wokingham arborfield green fire blaze savills new-builds safety safe
Last week's fire in Arborfield Green, at The Cavalry. Picture: Anzhela Yuan-Sitnikova

HOUSEBUILDERS are reassuring residents their properties are safe, following the fire in Arborfield Green.

Last week, 19 flats were destroyed after a fire started in the roof of Hayloft House, in The Cavalry.

Fire crews were quick to arrive at the scene, and spent more than seven hours managing the flames.

They will soon return to the site to investigate the cause of the fire. But first, they must confirm the building structure is safe to enter.

No one knows what caused the fire yet

At the moment, the cause is unknown. While there has been some speculation the fire was caused by faults with the solar panels, this is currently unsubstantiated.

Savills, the agency that manages the building, said it would be inappropriate to speculate to the cause, but to wait for an investigation.

A spokesperson said: “Residents have been advised of a number of immediate, proactive precautionary measures that we have taken, one of which includes the temporarily decommissioning of the solar panels while the investigation is ongoing.

“This has not been done as a response to any previous faults or issues recorded and is purely precautionary.”

At the time of the blaze, there were reports that alarms did not sound.

A spokesperson for Savills said the building is designed to operate with a “stay put” fire response policy.

They said the building has a smoke detection system in its communal areas, which activates smoke ventilation systems, but this does not sound an alarm.

They added: “The regulations state that the installation of communal audible alarms where a “stay put” policy is in place are undesirable as they would cause confusion if activated as to whether people should evacuate or stay put.”

Each flat is fitted with a smoke detector that has a warning sound.

All of the properties in the building were privately rented.

Should people worry whether new-builds are safe?

This has raised concerns over the safety of new-builds, particularly for the rental sector.

Savills said it has brought in additional proactive measures for the other flats at The Cavalry while the investigation continues.

“We believe [these will] provide an enhanced level of risk mitigation in order to give comfort to all residents,” they said.

The properties were signed-off by an inspector from the National Homes Building Council (NHBC).

The Vistry Group, which includes Bovis Homes, has developments in Emmbrook, Winnersh, Shinfield and Binfield. Following the fire, it reiterated its pledge to safety.

A spokesperson for the company said: “Our homes – whether built for the open market or for our housing partners – are built to the highest standards and in absolute adherence to the current build regulations.”

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