Wednesday, August 02, 2017

KILDARE Co Council did not ‘sign-off’ on the houses at Millfield Manor in Newbridge.

Councillors have been calling for the release of a government report on the Millfield Manor fire, where a blaze destroyed six Newbridge homes in less than 30 minutes in 2015.

Grenfell Tower in London caught fire on the 14 June with killing close to 80 people and residents had long called for greater fire safety measures to be taken in the apartment block.

In Millfield Manor, six houses in the estate burned to the ground after flames spread rapidly from a fire that started in one house.

At the recent Kildare-Newbridge Municipal District meeting, Cllr Mark Lynch raised the issue as to why these homes were allowed to be signed off and sold by the council.

His question asked: “What steps have been taken to determine as to why the homes at Millfield Manor were allowed to be signed off on and sold?

What processes have been put in place to ensure similar issues do not occur in new housing developments in the future?”

Cllr Lynch said the properties are now “useless houses”, which should never have been sold, and people of Millfield Manor are now living in a “nightmare”.

Director of Services for Housing and Corporate Services at Kildare Co Council, Tadgh McDonnell, said the council “did not sign off on any houses”.

Cllr Lynch said if the council were sending out people to inspect the houses, there’s a report done on that and that report is “inadequate”.

Mr McDonnell said sign-off might not be the right word and the precision of language is important and he added that the visit of the council staff was not an inspection.

The visits that the council made were in no way approving construction, Mr McDonnell told councillors.

Cllr Lynch then asked what the point was of calling out and Mr McDonnell added: “That’s a societal issue and different countries do it in different manners.”

In its report to members, the council said: “In the first instance it should be stated that Kildare Co Council did not ‘sign off’ on any houses nor was it the council’s legal or statutory responsibility to do so.

At the time of the construction of Millfield Manor the Building Control Code relied, to a significant extent, on the statutory responsibility of practitioners in the construction industry to design and construct buildings in accordance with the Building Regulations.

The random inspections undertaken by Building Control Authorities (in this case Kildare Co Council) are essentially supplementary to this primary statutory obligation.

Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government guidelines issued to Building Control Authorities shortly after the adoption of the Building Control Act 1990 indicated that the Building Control Authorities should carry out inspections on between 12-15% of new buildings notified to it in Commencement Notices.

This level of inspection was exceeded in Kildare in the period 2005 to 2009. It was not a requirement of the Building Control Regulations for the developer to provide the Building Control Authority with any certificates of compliance with the Kildare County Council Building Regulations in the period that Millfield Manor was built.

This situation has changed since the introduction of the new Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (S.I. 9 of 2014), which came into effect in March 2014.

Certificates of Compliance with the Building Regulations should have been provided to the purchasers (or their agents) of houses and apartments in Millfield Manor at the time of purchase.

It should also be stated that the fire service had no role in relation to the fire safety of the houses in Millfield Manor, i.e. there is no statutory function for the fire service in terms of ‘sign off’ as fire safety certificates are not required for houses.”

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By Darren Hassett
Contact Newsdesk: 045 432147

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