City street where cladding fell from tower remains shut

Westlegate remains closed after cladding fell from Westlegate Tower. Pic: Dan Grimmer.

Westlegate remains closed after cladding fell from Westlegate Tower. Pic: Dan Grimmer. - Credit: Archant

A pedestrian street in Norwich remains closed 24 hours after strong winds tore a chunk of cladding off a city centre tower block.

Cladding from part of Westlegate Tower came loose on Thursday afternoon and crashed into the skylight of a flat below.

The area surrounding the tower was closed and, as of 1pm on Friday, it remains blocked off.

Shops such as Evans Cycles, Paula Gundry and the Warings Lifestore are closed, although the lower section of Westlegate, where the likes of Tesco and Adnams are based, is open.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service was called to the street at just after 1pm yesterday, using an aerial platform to help make the scene safe.

A spokesman for the fire service said they were not expecting to reattend today.

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Watsons Property, which manages the building, yesterday said the area had been cordoned off because of the potential for more cladding to come off.

A spokesman for Watsons said today: 'Watsons are currently liaising with the freeholder of Westlegate Tower and its insurers regarding the recent damage to the building.

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'We are working alongside our contractors and leaseholders having reviewed any safety concerns for our residents and members of the public.'

It is not yet clear when the road might be re-opened or what repairs will need to be made.

Warings Life Store tweeted earlier today urging people to check their Twitter feed for updates as to when they might be a position to re-open.

The chunk of cladding which blew off was around halfway up the 41m-high tower.

It followed a Met Office weather warning for strong winds across the East of England through Thursday morning, with gusts of up to 65mph hitting the region.

Westlegate Tower was refurbished in 2014 at a cost of £8m and now houses around 20 apartments and two commercial units.

The people who live in the tower have not had to leave and are still able to get to their homes via Timber Hill.

Despite the warnings and road closed signs, earlier today people were putting themselves at risk by ignoring the warning signs and scrambling through.

In the space of just a few minutes on Friday (March 15) morning five people scrambled up and over the barriers put in place to walk through the street and in the shadow of the tower.

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