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Foresters Tower Adding quality to lives

An extensive programme of internal and external works to Foresters Tower in Oxford is underway in a project which will dramatically enhance the quality of life for residents.

Core elements of the scheme include improving the wind and weather tightness of properties of the building, reducing fuel poverty by boosting energy efficiency, and substantially upgrading fire safety.

The project is part of an Oxford City Council scheme to carry out improvements to five tower blocks in the city.

All of the tower blocks are being refurbished by Fortem (previously Willmott Dixon Energy Services Limited).

Built in the 1960s, Forester Tower incorporates 85 flats split over 15 floors, with six flats per floor on the upper floors and one flat and residents’ stores on the ground floor.

Senior project manager for the scheme at Oxford City Council Darowen Jones said: “The programme of external works to Foresters Tower includes adding solid aluminium sheet cladding over Rockwool insulation on the elevations, and installing replacement windows and balcony doors throughout. In addition we are semi-enclosing external balconies to create winter gardens – each with concertina-style windows.

“Internally we are installing new sprinkler systems throughout each flat, including in kitchens, lounges, bedrooms and hallways, as well as new fire alarm systems. A new 9,000 litre water tank has been installed on the roof to feed the new sprinkler system. All of these works have been designed in consultation with the Fire Service.”

New mechanical ventilation systems have been introduced to replace the building’s original central communal ventilation system which was installed when it was built. The new system can be operated within each individual flat – for example it can be boosted when someone is cooking or bathing.

New heating systems have also been installed, replacing the night storage heating with an electrical panel system with thermostatic controls which can be individually operated in each room. Replacement kitchens and bathrooms bringing the flats up to the Decent Homes Standard have already been fitted in a previous contract.

An L1 category fire alarm system has been installed in communal areas, which are also being re-decorated, LED lighting is being installed and the lifts are being refurbished. The reception area is being extended to make the space more inviting for residents which will also include enhanced recycling areas

Front doors are being upgraded and fire compartmentation in bin chute areas have been improved, including the installation of an automatic shut-off to communal bin stores and smoke seals to all of the bin chutes. In addition, automatic vents which will open to exhaust smoke in the event of fire have been installed within the roof and the stairwell.

Foresters Tower

Darowen Jones said: “One of the biggest challenges of the project has been working with the building fully occupied, whilst maintaining health and safety on site for everyone, as well as liaising closely with residents to ensure that we have minimal impact on their daily lives. It has also been essential to ensure the timely arrival of materials on site for use by the contractors.

“These challenges were successfully overcome thanks to the careful and detailed consideration which we gave to the technical solutions needed for the project at the pre-planning phase. In addition, we also have a very good contractor who works well with the residents and keeps them informed – as well as the services of a resident liaison officer employed by the Council.

“A number of residents have already reported that they really appreciate the works which have been completed.

“The project is about helping residents to maintain a good and comfortable lifestyle within their homes – as well as extending the lifespan of the properties involved by at least 30 years and reducing the need for building maintenance.”

Internal works virtually complete with external works ongoing.

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