Fire safety in tower blocks in Reading

This page provides information about fire safety in the residential tower blocks owned by Reading Borough Council.

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Information about tower blocks in Reading

The council owns 6,893 residential dwellings including houses, flats, temporary accommodation and sheltered housing.

The council directly manages 5,608 of these properties and 1,285 in North Whitley are managed under contract by Affinity Housing.  The stock includes 375 blocks of flats.

There are seven blocks over 18m high in Reading. There are three 15-storey blocks of flats in Wensley Road, Reading, (RG1 6ED), and four eight-storey blocks in Granville Road, Southcote (RG30 3QD), with a total of 427 flats in these 7 blocks – as detailed below.

Block locationNumber of blocks / flats per blockHeight of blocks (m) / storeys
Wensley Road3 / 8942m high / 15 storeys
Granville Road4 / 4022m high / 8 storeys


None of these tower blocks use the same ACM (Aluminium Composite material) or plastic cladding that was used at Grenfell Tower.

The cladding used in Reading’s tower blocks is external wall insulation with a cement render finish.

None of our tower blocks use cladding panels. The Wensley Road tower blocks have external wall insulation and there are some areas that have cavities between the external insulation and the mainly concrete construction, but on the limited elevations where they do occur, fire breaks are in place to stop the spread of fire. None of the other flatted blocks have cavities.

None of the blocks have undergone a refurbishment which would have included the use of cladding. Wensley Rd flats were constructed in 1960 in solid reinforced concrete (Wimpey No-fines)  and were externally insulated in the 1990’s. Granville Road flats were constructed in 1958 in solid reinforced concrete (Wimpey No fines) and were externally insulated in the late 1980’s.

We have a good knowledge of our housing block construction types and have assessed the fire risk in respect of these.  The council would like to test all cladding materials to provide maximum safety assurance. The council has approached the BRE which is the body carrying out testing for the Government but the agency has stated that it is not currently prioritising testing of non-ACM panels.  

Fire escapes

There are two escape staircases fitted on each of the seven tower blocks in Reading.

Fire safety measures

The Coley high rise flats have fire exits at both ends of the blocks and have a call-point fire alarm system in communal areas which can be heard throughout the building when activated. The Granville Road flats each have two communal staircases accessed via external balconies. All flats have their own smoke alarms which sound internally. Communal doors and the front doors of all flats are standard fire doors with smoke seals and strips which swell when in contact with heat to seal the door completely. This prevents smoke and fire entering a property, or from spreading from a property for a period of time. If tenants find, between our inspections, any damage to any of these features they should report them as a matter of urgency to our Repairs Helpdesk who will arrange repairs as a priority.  


Sprinkler systems have been fitted to the 15-storey buildings at Wensley Road.

Fire risk assessments

Fire Risk Assessments are carried out in all taller buildings annually.

None of the risk assessments showed the high rise buildings to be at high risk from fire.

Royal Berkshire Fire Service

The council owns and manages 375 blocks of flats. Since the Grenfell Tower fire the Fire Service have visited and visually inspected all of the council’s high rise blocks. Once RBFRS have visited a building they will notify the owner/landlord of any issues noted which require action. They can issue a ‘deficiency notice’ on a building and no notices have been served on the council in recent years.

The council is working closely with RBFRS and we are sharing information in regard to our building stock.  We welcome inspections from the fire brigade on our high-rise blocks or other housing stock. We will continue to liaise with our fire and rescue service colleagues for advice and support and to ensure we have as complete an understanding as possible across agencies and can provide up to date advice to tenants and residents.

None of these buildings have been found to have a category 1 fire hazard under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

Fire safety advice to people living in the blocks

Every block of flats has a fire notice board with an evacuation plan and factsheet giving advice regarding what to do in the event of a fire. Advice to tenants, provided by the fire service, is still to remain inside your flat if there is a fire elsewhere in the block – unless:

  • smoke or heat starts to affect your flat
  • the fire is in the flat next door
  • or the fire brigade tell you to evacuate the building

in which case you should leave the block using the stairs if it is safe to do so.  Please see the guidance from RBFRS in the link here: Fire safety advice for residents living in high-rise buildings.

If residents still have concerns

If tenants and residents in council high rise blocks have any further questions or concerns they should contact their Housing Officer on 0118 937 2161.

For tenants in the private rented sector, they can contact the Private Sector Housing team on 0118 937 2151.

Last updated on 30/05/2024