Barbican Estate Fire Sign Strategy
A planning application for Listed Building Consent for the ‘Introduction of new fire signage in communal areas of residential blocks and removal of old redundant fire signage across the Barbican Estate……’ has recently been submitted. Full details of the background and the subsequent report from the company appointed by the City of London Corp to produce a Fire Sign Strategy can be viewed on the Planning website (reference number 22/00162/LBC) here.
Post Grenfell, in a document dated August 2020, the City of London Corporation directly addressed concerns and issues raised by residents. Amongst others, the following conclusions were drawn:
• Fire signs are required under and reception areas the Fire Safety Reform 2005
• It is a legal requirement that all occupants of a building must be informed of the fire safety instructions, and an effective solution is to display fire action signs with it
• All visitors and staff within the building should be able to see at least one fire action sign on their way to their destination
• They should be fitted between 1.2m to 1.8m from the floor and at important locations throughout the building…[such as] fire alarm call points, next to lifts, or near communal
In response, the City of London Corporation appointed ReForm Architects to produce a Fire Sign Strategy for the Fire Sign Installation Project on the Barbican Estate. A firm called BB7 Fire Safety Engineering was appointed as consultants. A summary of the proposed strategy was provided by BB7 Fire Safety Engineering and submitted to the London Fire Brigade on August 4th, 2021. Their response was that “The recommendations of BB7 with regard to fire signage at the Barbican appear comprehensive and in line with expectations.”
Need to comply with statutory requirements
At present, the Barbican Estate does not comply with the statutory requirements for fire safety signage. Therefore, action needs to be taken to find solutions which both deliver legal compliance and are sensitive to listed building heritage significance. It must also be compliant with planning and building regulations. Hence the submission of this planning application.
Barbican Fire Sign Strategy Report
This report, dated October 2021, is intended to serve as a strategy document and sets out the principles and intent of the improved fire signage across the Barbican Estate. It includes pictures of the proposed signage and attachment thereof and can be viewed here.
Whilst primarily addressing fire safety, it states that ‘it is important that concerns from residents about the appearance, necessity and frequency of the signage are also addressed, and any proposals are supported by sound and robust evidence for their location and design’.
The document goes through the background and the previous failed introduction of signage in the upper levels of the tower blocks in 2020 for which no Planning or Listed Building Consent had been sought. The Barbican Estate Office received a large number of resident objections relating to the implementation of additional and replacement signage soon after the 2020 works commenced. The objections and comments made can be seen in the Resident Feedback section on Page 14 of the Report. This really says it all – contradictory advice, poor spelling, appearance, positions, etc to name but few.
As a result of complaints, works were put on hold whilst the concerns could be addressed in co-ordination with the London Fire Brigade, Local Authority and Barbican Estate residents.
Resident feedback is important
The report now sets out both the principles and intent of the improved fire signage as well as how and where the proposed signage is to be placed in the various Barbican blocks.
Any comments on these proposals can be made here. The target determination date of the application is 26th April 2022 so any comments should be made before that date.
2 Aldermanbury – installation of covered walkways
During the last meeting held with residents, Keltbray advised that it would be installing some covered walkways to the Highwalk between London Wall and Guildhall. It was requested that some information on security and lighting be provided. This has now been received and can be viewed here
In essence, the document details the proposal for the CCTV, lighting and security once the covered walkway is installed on the podium level of the Basinghall Highwalk between London Wall and Basinghall Street. These enabling works are proposed to commenced in April in readiness for works to the eastern elevation of City Place House. They will remain in place up until access to the walkway is rescinded on 01 June 2022.
Due to the location of the works they will need to be carried out during out of normal working hours i.e. nights and weekends. The works will take a number of nights/weekends to complete and during this time the access to the highway will be closed with local diverts in place.
Once the dates for the works have been finalised this information will be issued to local residents by newsletters, letter drops and emails where applicable.
CCTV – 5 CCTV cameras will be installed to ensure that dull coverage is maintained. The CCTV will be monitored 24/7 by the onsite security office.
Lighting – the covered walkways will have LED strip lights installed to maintain a “daylight” type light condition 24/7. In additional LED floodlights will be installed on the eastern elevation scaffolding which will be controlled by a dusk to dawn sensor to ensure that the light is only working when required.
Security – the existing onsite security operatives will monitor the CCTV 24/7 and will notify the relevant authorities if anything untoward is identified. The security operates have a constant communication link to their main control room.