More fire safety fears prompt full evacuation of Ipswich tower block

Everyone living in Cardinal Lofts tower block in Ipswich must now leave after further fire safety concerns were uncovered.
Everyone living in Cardinal Lofts tower block in Ipswich must now leave after further fire safety concerns were uncovered. Credit: ITV News Anglia

A tower block where everyone living on the top three floors was forced to leave over fire safety concerns must now be completely evacuated.

Residents at Cardinal Lofts in Ipswich have been in limbo since November last year when those living in the top 15 flats were told they needed to move out while work was carried out to make them safe.

The town's Conservative MP has described the situation as "appalling".

Now households on the remaining six floors have been sent a letter telling them they too must leave after new surveys identified "several further fire safety concerns".

In a letter to residents, management company Principle said a series of "intrusive inspections" had uncovered the latest problems.

"The latest surveys are far more detailed than those carried out in the past and have come together to provide a holistic view of the property," it said. "The assessment identifies several further fire safety concerns in respect of the internal compartmentation in the building, which could not have been known prior to these intrusive investigations."

Tom Hunt MP said: "The situation at Cardinal Lofts is appalling, and it seems little has been learnt from last autumn.

"Again, we have a number of my constituents being told with no notice they need to leavetheir homes with no certainty at all over timescales.

"To say all of this must be discombobulating and distressing is an understatement.”

He pledged to work with residents to ensure they get the support they need.

The initial evacuation, in November 2022, saw firefighters knocking on doors at 10pm to tell people they had to immediately get out.

The fire service said it had stepped in after receiving confirmation that it was too dangerous for people to remain in their flats.

Those residents have been told they will not be able to return until January 2024. The latest evacuation notice warns "the works required are likely to take some time".

Residents have previously criticised Grey PR, the building's freeholders, for moving too slowly, claiming they have been aware of at least some of the fire safety issues since November 2020.

But a spokesman told ITV News Anglia: "Grey is committed to remediating the issues caused by the developers of Cardinal Lofts."

They added: "We are sincerely sorry to residents and understand how upsetting this news is, however their safety is our utmost priority.

"We have immediately organised hotels and meals for all residents, and we are looking to source suitable longer-term accommodation, while we expedite all remediation works."

Principle Estate Management's letter to residents added: "Failure to leave Cardinal Lofts immediately will result in Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service issuing a Prohibition Notice.

"We are sorry the situation at Cardinal Lofts has escalated. This decision has not been taken lightly, however resident safety is our main concern."

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