INADEQUATE fire alarms and structures incapable of containing fire are the two main reasons around 120 residents of a city centre apartment block were turfed out of their flats at just 15 hours notice.

Residents at Appleton Point, in Hamm Strasse, were given letters at 6pm on Wednesday, telling them the building had failed a fire inspection and they had to leave by 9am on Thursday.

The occupants - a mix of students, young professionals and families - have been offered temporary accommodation, rendering them effectively homeless after the flats were shut down.

The £9 million development opened in 2014 with 160 rooms, and was named in honour of Bradford's Nobel Prize-winning physicist Edward Appleton.

A spokesperson for the West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service said an enforcement notice on the building over fire safety was first issued in 2016.

She said: "We have been made aware of serious fire safety deficiencies at Appleton Point which include the lack of an appropriate fire warning system and breaches in compartmentation throughout the building.

"As a result of these fire safety concerns we have had to take necessary steps to ensure the safety of residents by issuing a prohibition notice on the premises thereby preventing its use.

"We are currently working with officers within Bradford Council who are putting plans in place for alternative accommodation for effected residents."

Compartmentation is an element of passive fire protection, and involved dividing a building into compartments using fire doors, fire-resistant materials in the walls and ceilings, and barriers to stop fire spreading between levels.

Jill Marsden, whose daughter moved into the flats last October, said when they were given a tour of the building work was being done to upgrade fire safety.

She said: "Ceiling tiles were missing, and they said it was because they were upgrading fire safety.

"It has been pretty brutal, we just want to see if she can get back in to get her belongings, and she is very fortunate we have space at home for her.

"There were people running round on Wednesday distressed because they had nowhere to go or take their belongings.

"Someone had only moved in last week, they must have known about the problems before letting them move in.

"It's extremely concerning but I'd rather have her out now than having to bring her out in a body bag. We wouldn't have let her take up a tenancy if we had known about this."

Another resident, who asked not to be named, said she only found out after getting home from work on Wednesday night.

She said: "I've not heard anything from the landlords, just from Bradford Council and the fire service.

"I work full-time so I've had to take today off and I'll probably have to take a few more days off until it's sorted.

"I got home from work at about 7.30pm last night and had two letters under my door. I didn't expect to have to move out so soon."

Another resident added: "There were 50 people in the lobby, angry and confused.

"We don’t know what we are going to do, some are talking about suing, some people have paid months of rent up front. They said it hasn’t passed a fire inspection and could be dangerous."

A University of Bradford spokesperson said it is supporting students in finding somewhere to live.

She said: "The university are in the process of contacting the 12 students who live at Appleton Point to check they have somewhere to stay and if not will ensure they are given a room in the Green, our student accommodation.”

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, executive member for regeneration, planning and transport, said: “We understand how distressing this must be for the residents and what a terrible situation they have been put in through no fault of their own. 

“The safety of the residents is the highest priority. Bradford Council officers are on the scene ready to give any assistance needed, from answering residents’ questions, reassuring and arranging any help they need, including providing alternative accommodation. 

“We are supporting the Fire Service in their work to ensure that residents are safe and that their distress and inconvenience is kept to the minimum. 

“The Council is working with those in control of the building to ensure they keep residents informed and to encourage them to carry out the necessary safety improvements as soon as possible.”

Faiz Ilyas, student affairs officers at the University of Bradford Students' Union, invited students to visit the union's advice centre for help with housing or financial issues.

  • David Aspin, operations director at South Street Asset Management, has asked us to point out that his company has not had any involvement with the building or its operation since September 2015, when he said his company took the decision to "step away" from the contract.