Remaining residents of an Ipswich block of flats have been asked to leave their homes today, as the building “is no longer safe for occupation”.

The freeholder Grey GR has released a statement that sets out its decision to ask all residents of Cardinal Lofts to move out for safety reasons. 

It comes three months after a prohibition notice was served to residents of floors seven to nine of the Foundary Lane flats due to fire risk.

A spokesman for Grey GR said: “On 21st February, Grey GR received the combined results of several in-depth reports it had instructed at Cardinal Lofts.

"This was the most intrusive inspection carried out at the building to date as part of the ongoing remediation and included inspections within a number of apartments as well as communal spaces.  

“The reports detailed the condition of internal compartmentation, established at the point of development, is below expected standards. We have shared these reports and additional independent technical notes with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), and Grey, alongside technical experts, have concluded that the property is no longer safe for occupation. 

 “We are sincerely sorry to residents and understand how upsetting this news is, however their safety is our utmost priority.

"The full extent of the issues within the building could only have been uncovered by recent intrusive surveys.

"Grey is committed to remediating the issues caused by the developers of Cardinal Lofts.

"We ask all those living in Cardinal Lofts to comply with the evacuation requirements and leave the building. 

“We are in direct contact with leaseholders and are providing on the ground support to residents during this difficult time.

"We have immediately organised hotels and meals for all residents, and we are looking to source suitable longer-term accommodation, while we expedite all remediation works. 

"We will continue to communicate as further updates become available and wish to do all that we can to ease the understandable distress this will cause.   

"We are working with our project team to determine next steps. All decisions made will be in the best interests and safety of residents, and in accordance with the advice of the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service.

"We are also in direct contact with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and we are providing key updates to the local MP.”

The company’s spokesperson confirmed that hotel accommodation for the evacuated residents has been arranged.

Ipswich Star: Alex Dickin lives in Cardinal Lofts and is the founder of Ipswich Cladiators. Picture: Charlotte BondAlex Dickin lives in Cardinal Lofts and is the founder of Ipswich Cladiators. Picture: Charlotte Bond (Image: CHARLOTTE BOND)

Alex Dickin, a Cardinal Lofts resident and founder of Ipswich Cladiators campaign group, said: “Suddenly early this afternoon, we all received letters to say that Cardinal Lofts will be evacuated immediately. 

“Once again we've been shocked by a sudden decision to evacuate Cardinal Lofts and this time is the entire building. 

“Back in November, it was the top three floors which were evacuated and the residents from there have been moved into temporary accommodation since then. 

“We now have the dreadful news that the entire building will go to local hotels, and then in a few weeks, the residents will be moved into temporary accommodation, just like the top three floors did.” 

Ipswich Star: Jon Lacey, chief fire officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue. Picture: NewsquestJon Lacey, chief fire officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue. Picture: Newsquest (Image: Suffolk and Rescue Service)

Jon Lacey, Chief Fire Officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Today’s decision to evacuate Cardinal Lofts was taken by the building’s freeholder, Grey GR, not Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service.

“Whilst we appreciate the decision will cause frustration for residents, their safety must remain a priority, and we welcome the management company taking this proactive approach.”

Timeline of events:

November 15 - Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service issues a prohibition notice for three floors in Cardinal Lofts, covering 15 flats on floors seven to nine. A waking watch is put in place for the rest of the building.

November 16 - Residents asked to leave said they feel left in the dark after being asked to evacuate their homes. 

November 16 - Ipswich MP Tom Hunt meets with minister for building safety Lee Rowley to make the government aware of what's going on following the evacuation.

November 23 - Letter sent saying temporary accommodation will be set up for evacuated residents until January 2023.

December 7 - Ipswich MP Tom Hunt meets residents at Cardinal Lofts three weeks on from the evacuation.

December 17 - The partial evacuation of the flat complex is extended until January 2024.

February 21 - Grey GR announces Cardinal Lofts is "no longer safe for occupation" following the results of several indepth reports.