Cause of fire at the Cube in Bolton may herald warning for other buildings

  • Student residence was not clad in the same material as Grenfell but Manchester and Salford councils believe it poses a risk
  • Government expert on panel fire and safety has called for its removal from other buildings

The cause of the fire at The Cube student residents in Bolton is yet to be determined but it has been confirmed that it was cladded in high-pressure laminate (HPL) material, made from compressed wood and paper, which the fire was said to have burned through within minutes.  

Salford City Council is aware of the HPL cladding on the Cube and Salford’s Mayor, Paul Dennett, has said he will be asking the government to provide more funds to remove flammable cladding from buildings to prevent any future such incidents.  

The company which signed off on the decision to originally clad the building with HPL was Assent Building Control.  

Director Richard Batte, said: “We were shocked to see the speed at which the devastating fire spread through the Cube building in Bolton. 

“Our first concern was for the safety of the occupants and our thoughts are with those coming to terms with the loss of their homes and possessions and recovering from the trauma of the fire.”  

Mr Batte said Assent worked on the Cube in consultation with the fire service and alongside designers, constructors and clients to ensure compliance with building regulations. 

He added that since the fire Assent had been undertaking a detailed review of the project. 

“Our initial findings are that, for a building of this height, the requirements in place at the time relating to cladding combustibility were satisfactorily met,” he said.

“The building regulations submission was received on 15 November 2013 and the final certificate issued on 26 February 2016.

“We will continue with our investigations into the details of the case in conjunction with government, fire service and the design and construction team in an effort to understand how this might contribute to the national debate on Building a Safer Future.”

Greater Manchester Mayor Burnham has said the fire at the Cube revealed flaws in the design of its cladding and that a review was necessary to determine what risks the building may have posed and if enough work was done to rectify them.  

In July, the government’s expert on panel fire safety demanded that HPL panels should be removed as soon as possible from housing taller than 18m. This exlcuded the Cube.  

A spokesman for Manchester City Council confirmed the investigation in to the cause of fire was ongoing.