9:16 AM, 5th September 2011, About 10 years ago 2
Builders who took safety shortcuts in a purpose-built private student hall of residence were ordered to pay more than £14,000 in fines and costs in court.
Cost Design Ltd and UK Real Estate Ltd – part of developers MCR Group – admitted breaching building regulations before Manchester Magistrates Court concerning the development in Grafton Street, Ardwick, Manchester.
The court was told that the 55-flat development failed to meet basic fire safety standards.
Magistrates were told the building was a ‘death trap’ as builders had not installed self-closing fire safety doors or fire barriers to stop a blaze spreading. Windows that should have opened for ventilation were obstructed by scaffolding and a fire escape opened on to a building site.
Firefighters said they would have had difficulty entering the building if a fire broke out.
Cost Design was fined £4,500 with £2,605 in costs and UK Real Estate was fined £4,750 with £2,624 in costs.
The building was inspected after students moving in complained the block was little more than a building site. The council ruled the block unsafe and students were moved elsewhere until safety work was completed.
Councillor Nigel Murphy, of Manchester City Council, said: “Allowing this building to be occupied when it was so flagrantly unfit for occupation is inexcusable. The two MCR Group companies let their own self-interest take priority over the safety of students and the council had to step in to make sure vital safety work was completed before the students could move back in.”
MCR Group’s CEO is Aneel Mussarat, who has had a place in the Sunday Times Rich List.
The council has also warned other developers not to cut corners.
“The lives of students were put at risk by those involved with this development,” said Councillor Paul Andrews. “The court has rightly hit them in the pocket. This should serve as a warning to all developers that they need to ensure properties are fully compliant with regulations before tenants move in.”
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