Angus Council welcomes move to install sprinkler systems in all social housing

Cllr Mark Salmond

As the first Scottish local authority to install sprinkler systems as standard in its new build housing, Angus Council welcomes the move by Scottish Government to make sprinkler systems compulsory in new social housing.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart confirmed earlier this month that the government will take forward Labour and Co-op MSP David Stewart’s proposal for a members’ bill to make it a legal requirement for all future new build social housing properties to be fitted with sprinkler systems.

Currently all new high-rise domestic buildings, whether private or social, with a floor over ‎18 metres must have automatic fire suppression systems fitted.

Praising the announcement, Angus Council’s communities convener, Cllr Mark Salmond, said: “Angus Council has lobbied for installation of domestic sprinkler systems in social housing since 2011 when we made the commitment to install domestic sprinkler systems in all our new build houses. Angus Council has also invested in supporting housing association partners, where the affordable housing account made a contribution to developments.

“Sprinkler systems are a small investment but they deliver very real benefits. They protect lives, not just those of the householders but those of their neighbours and of our Fire and Rescue partners. In Angus, we’ve built over 300 houses fitted with sprinkler systems and we have not had a single problem. This is a very welcome announcement and, although long overdue, I support the move to a national approach for social housing.”

Angus Council’s development at Academy Court in Forfar (formerly Chapelpark School) is the latest development to have a sprinkler system installed. This innovative project sees the transformation of an iconic B-listed building into 29 high quality affordable homes for social rent.

Formerly a primary school that had since become surplus to education requirements, the development of housing on this site, breathes new life into this well-known Forfarlandmark that is very much a part of the town’s heritage. It will now play an important part in Forfar’s future – meeting the housing needs of people in the community and matching our wider town regeneration aims.

Cllr Salmond has now called on the government to extend the legislation to cover the private rented sector.

He added: “As positive an announcement as this is, we must be clear that it will create a two tier system that will see social housing standards outstrip those of private sector developments. Whilst I understand this move is one the government can directly control, the worrying inconsistency it will create means that tenants of new affordable social houses will benefit from the protection of sprinkler systems, whilst their private sector neighbours on the same estates go without.

“I appeal to the minister to fully grasp this issue, remove this inequality and extend this protection to all new build housing. This is an important issue where it is essential that ambition overcomes any resistance or costs issues.”

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