An NHS property professional writes:

Barton House

What a concerning (but unsurprising) mess this Barton House disaster is:

1. When building professionals assess a commercial building’s condition we – in my work life experience – work on an expected ‘life’ of 60 years.

2. Commercial organisations and public bodies with corporate manslaughter / public safety accountability have a duty of care. They therefore would want to evidence they had carried out regular (no more than 5 years apart in my experience) condition surveys to assess cyclical maintenance need / cost rate and ‘life remaining’ of the structure and fabric.

3. When end of life was approaching, they would want to commence contingency plans to replace the building OR (preferably) assess what is needed to retain it in a safe condition for x more years, allowing for planned major spend as necessary. It’s called good building management, professional responsibility and life cycle estate planning! Oh! And duty of care!

4. In the NHS, in my experience working for multiple NHS Trusts, we (every NHS organisation) were mandated to have a Major Incident Plan (MIP) for everything we could conceivably expect to go wrong (yup, including a pandemic) and have a ‘plan’ in place. This would be documented, regularly updated and occasionally acted out along with major responders. A real example being a suspected bomb being unearthed in work around the Haymarket leading to the wholescale evacuation of the BRI. I wonder what the BCC MIP was for a Grenfell etc type disaster?

4). The above said, 3 questions:

A. If a similarly constructie (I believe, I’m still investigating) building started to collapse (Ronan Point) in 1968, 10 yrs after Barton House was constructed, I’d assume VERY regular surveys would be carried out to asses and determine any movement or other concerns. If something went wrong, you would want to assure the public, the courts etc that you were on top of the issues and ‘managing’ one’s estate to assure of being in control, of professional estate management competence.

B. On a 60 year expected life this building was past its expected life in 2018. So what’s happened since? What was documented as BCC’s ‘plan’ for Barton House? 

C) How many other Large Panel System (LPS) exist in Bristol? Or indeed around the country? 

One has to conclude that it appears, from current revelations, that BCC has not / is not competently managing its estate which, after experiences such as Ronan, Grenfall etc, is a grave public concern. 

FOIs will be submitted as above.  Those poor tenants / occupants deserve so much better especially from a council which has introduced a licensing system to ensure private landlords provide adequate safe accommodation.

Glasshouses and stones ….


  1. PaulB

    Would that be a professional from an NHS which is stricken by RAAC concrete problems. So much for credibility and professionalism.

    1. thebristolblogger Post author

      They’re not responsible for the construction of the buildings. They’re responsible for their assessment and maintenance. Regardless of your views on NHS staff, the points still stand.

      1. PaulB

        So being responsible for their assessment and maintenance up to a point where wards have to be closed, ceilings have to propped up and floors above ground ground floor level cannot be used demonstrates credibility and professionalism?

        1. Joyce Bond

          I think you are Missing the point the surveyor was simply trying of inform of the normal surveying procedures. You cannot blame an empolyee for the failures of an organisation.
          Look else where for a reason the NHS have no money.

  2. MartinE

    Apart from, like most of Bristol’s other early housing schemes, Barton House was not built using LPS, instead it’s a monolithic concrete slab and column construction. There is no similarity to Ronan Point.

    1. Wanker Mc Nulty (Lockleaze)

      Yes there is they both were built as emergency housing and approved an designed by people who had no intention of living there. We have demolished their community. That will do for them.


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