Sprinklers could be installed in all future Hartlepool school developments

Hartlepool Council wants to see sprinklers installed in any new school development.
Hartlepool Council wants to see sprinklers installed in any new school development.

Council bosses are set to implement a policy ordering all school developments in Hartlepool to include a sprinkler system as a mandatory safety measure.

The move comes after a number of applications in relation to the provision of new school buildings were submitted earlier this year.

Members of the planning committee, following advice from the fire authority, were keen to see sprinkler systems installed, however it is not a ‘planning matter’.

Hartlepool Council joint regeneration and children’s service committee is now looking to implement a policy to introduce sprinklers into school developments.

A council report proposes any developments for new school buildings, extensions to existing buildings, or change of use of non-school buildings to school use, must incorporate sprinklers in any design.

It is expected the provision of sprinklers be incorporated into the early design and costing to ensure the buildings can physically incorporate the infrastructure and funding is in place.

A report from Andrew Carter, council assistant director of economic growth and regeneration, said: “The council as a whole strongly supports Cleveland Fire Authority’s view that sprinklers should be fitted to all schools (and other non-domestic buildings such as hotels and HMOs).

“It is suggested that planning officers should play a part in trying to achieve that objective.”

Advice from the Cleveland Fire Authority on previous planning applications states a fire can ‘potentially place pupils’, teachers’ and firefighters’ lives at risk’.

They warned it could also ‘expose children to lengthy periods of disrupted education, which could result in unachieved potential’, but said sprinklers would mitigate the risk going forward.

As part of the move at the earliest stage possible in the planning process the applicant will be notified in writing of the council’s target to have sprinklers fitted in all schools.

Earlier this year the headteacher of English Martyrs said major plans to rebuild the school were in limbo after councillors and fire chiefs called for sprinklers to be installed.

The planning committee unanimously supported the major redevelopment, but the Education Skills and Funding Agency (ESFA), which is financing the rebuild ,did not include sprinklers in the budget.

However, the latest council report states the ESFA will fund the integration of sprinklers into designs if a local policy expects such provision.

Sprinklers are mandatory in new school buildings in Scotland and Wales, but not in England.

A report states committee members are expected to endorse the policy at the joint regeneration and children’s service committee meeting next week.

It will take place on Tuesday at the Civic Centre from 3pm.

Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporting Service