Published: Thursday, 30 June 2022

A photograph of Hockmore Tower

Work to remove and replace potentially unsafe rain screen cladding at Hockmore Tower is now complete.

The cladding system at Hockmore Tower is made up of non-combustible mineral wool with a rain screen to protect the insulation from the elements.

It was installed in 2016 and 2017 as part of Oxford City Council’s tower block refurbishment programme.

There were originally two types of rain screen at Hockmore Tower – sheet aluminium and high-pressure laminate (HPL), each covering two sides of the building.

The council decided to replace the HPL rain screen in 2019. This was the result of changes to government guidance after a combination of HPL rain screen and combustible insulation failed a private fire safety test.

A review then concluded that Hockmore Tower would need to be completely reclad, with adjustments to the structural support holding the cladding in place and the replacement of insulation due to prolonged exposure to the elements also needed. This work began in November 2020.

The removal of all HPL rain screen from Hockmore Tower was completed in November 2021.

Sheet aluminium is the safest type of rain screen. Completion of the work at Hockmore Tower means that all five of the council’s tower blocks only use this type of rain screen.

Replacement of the HPL rain screen was paid for by the council’s contractor, Fortem. Fortem has now handed Hockmore Tower back to the council following final checks to the building.


“With completion of the work to replace potentially unsafe HPL panels at Hockmore Tower, all five of our tower blocks now feature only aluminium sheet rain screen – the safest type of rain screen.

“Oxford City Council will not compromise on fire safety in our tower blocks. The safety of tenants and leaseholders in their homes will continue to be our absolute top priority as a landlord.”

Councillor Linda Smith, Cabinet Member for Housing

Fire safety at Hockmore Tower

In addition to non-combustible insulation and aluminium rain screen cladding, Hockmore Tower features a wide range of fire safety measures. These include:

  • sprinklers in all flats and bin storage areas, directly connected to a callout system for the fire service
  • heat and smoke detectors in all communal areas, directly connected to a callout system for the fire service
  • upgraded communal area fire doors and flat entrance fire doors
  • fire breaks within the cladding system
  • an automatic venting system to remove smoke from stairwells
  • upgraded fire seals to waste chutes
  • in the event of a fire, residents evacuate the building rather than staying put
  • two flights of stairs are available to leave the building

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