Fire safety built into the DNA of new affordable homes development in Hove

Harriet Cooper

Global Marketing Manager

There’s no doubting the very urgent need to build, and fast. A recent Lords report has revealed that in 2020/21 a mere 194,000 homes were built, which is way off the government’s target of 300,000 homes per year.

Amid this pressing situation, housebuilders across the country are swamped with projects, many of them working as quickly as possible as they race to get housing completed and new projects started.

A residential development at School Road, Hove, East Sussex, is set to deliver 104 affordable homes. The development sits in the former Westerman Industrial Works complex, which dates back to the 1950s.

The extensive project includes 21 town houses, and seven residential blocks. Block A features nine flats in a four to five storey structure, while blocks B, C and D feature 47 flats across four storeys. Blocks E, F and G consists of 17 flats and retail units spanning across three and four storeys. This build has benefitted from a Homes England grant, meaning that 60 homes will be made affordable to rent. The remaining 44 homes will be available for shared ownership. Alongside the 104 dwellings, office spaces for small and medium-sized businesses will be built and made available to rent.

Construction in progress

Fire safety has been an essential consideration throughout this project. As such, SMARTPLY MAX FR B, powered by Zeroignition, was able to provide and install specialist, structural panels with reliable reaction to fire properties to provide enhanced fire protection throughout these residential and retail dwellings.

The project was to supply and erect timber frames as part of the design and construction of 104 residential dwellings and three commercial units. Around 3,500 sheets of SMARTPLY MAX FR B were used in the project, covering over 8,900m2.

Emma Barry, Project Co-ordinator at Gibbs Timber Frame states: “We chose SMARTPLY MAX FR B panels for the Cat B buildings and for the decking in Cat C buildings because of its flame retardant properties. Crucially, the product is also suitable for EC5 Design and Cat 1 racking, which is just what we needed.”

How does it work?

SMARTPLY MAX FR B is a structural, moisture resistant OSB/3 panel. It can be used for a broad range of different applications and unlike standard, structural OSB/3 panels, SMARTPLY MAX FR B is impregnated during the manufacturing process with non-toxic Zeroignition Solution which goes into the cellular structure of the engineered wood fibre. This provides outstanding and reliable reaction to fire properties throughout the thickness of the panel, and unlike some post-treated panels, the same level of protection remains in the section of wood no matter how many times it is cut.

This form of nano scale fire protection in the material, delivers full EN300 OSB/3 structural properties, proven in both short and long-term strength and environmental testing.

Ian King, COO at Zeroignition says: “We have been working with MEDITE SMARTPLY over a number of years to create the Euroclass B Structural OSB product. Our mission here at Zeroignition is, and always has been, to protect property and save lives. Tragedies of the past simply cannot be repeated and it is essential that housebuilders, like PMC Construction, have a vested interest and are wholeheartedly committed to the safety of the end user. We have seen the devastation and destruction that arises if corners are cut and the bottom line is favoured over the health and wellbeing of residents. After years of research, development and rigorous testing, it makes us very proud to see our fire solutions being used extensively, as part of a tried and tested system, to protect residential projects like this. Our technology is being used here for its intended purpose, offering a blanket of protection to those who use these buildings, ensuring they remain safe as houses.”