Girton House, Smith's Wood Goes Up In Flames!

Girton House is one of five tower blocks which have been earmarked for demolition in Smith's Wood as part of proposals to regenerate North Solihull.  Three out of the five blocks have already been demolished with Girton House and the adjacent tower block, Gonville House due to be demolished early in 2013.

West Midlands Fire Service has for the first time been given the opportunity to use a 15-storey high-rise facility to enable its firefighters to train for high-rise incidents in live fire, as opposed to simulated, conditions.  The most recent deaths of UK firefighters on duty (Shirley Towers, Southampton, 2010) have all been in high-rise premises.

This new training facility will enable the Fire Service to test revised procedures, share best practice and to see what lessons if any, can be learned from such tragedies - so the potential impact of the facility isn't limited to Solihull, or even the West Midlands.

On August 29th 2012, in a unique demonstration, fire safety officers from West Midlands Fire Service set light to substantial parts of the tower block, enabling a significant number of firefighters to receive the specialist high-level training.  Members of the media attended the event which was broadcast the same evening on BBC Midlands Today.  They also had the chance to tour the burned out premises afterwards.

Once Girton House and Gonville House are demolished, a new area of open space will be created for the community.  The new space will include an area for informal play, seating, lighting improvements, a central meeting place, activity space and new areas of planting.  Residents have been consulted on the proposals for the new space and a planning application is due to be submitted in Autumn 2012.  The open space scheme is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund as part of a wider plan to improve pedestrian access to a new Village Centre that is being built in Smith's Wood.