City centre street will remain closed until safe after high winds tore chunk of cladding off tower block
PUBLISHED: 21:58 14 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:37 15 March 2019
A busy pedestrian street will remain barricaded off after strong winds tore a chunk of cladding off a city centre tower block.
Reports came in at around 12.20pm on Thursday that the cladding had come loose from Westlegate Tower, and had crashed into a skylight at a flat below.
Nathan Humphreys, head of residential management at Watsons Property, which manages the building, said: “We received a call from a resident to say there had been a loud crash and that their skylight had been broken by something falling off the building.
“It was clear the external cladding had been pulled off in the high winds. “We attended within 10 minutes and have cordoned off the area with our health and safety officer contacting highways to seek their advice.”
Norfolk Fire and Rescue service was also called, attending with an aerial platform and helping to make the scene safe.
“There is potential for more cladding to come off which is why we have cordoned the area off and asked pedestrians to go around,” added Mr Humphreys.
Katrin Ringwood a retail assistant at Warings Lifestore which is within the closed area said the cafe and shop has been told the street could be closed for the rest of the day.
“They think it’s going to last all day, nobody really knows, or how long it’s going to last for, they can’t really say” she said.
The road will remain closed until the fire services declare the area safe. It attempted to move the cladding which had fallen using a lift but the wind was too strong.
Businesses in the area have been advised to stay closed but can open at their own risk.
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.
Norfolk police said officers were called at 12.47pm to reports that a piece of plasterboard had come off the building, but did not attend as it had not landed on the pavement or road.
Officers later went to the scene to help with the cordon.
Westlegate Tower was refurbished in 2014 at a cost of £8m and now houses around 20 apartments and two commercial units.