A UNIVERSITY’S distinctive cladding is set to be torn down after it was found to be dangerous.

Accommodation for University of Essex students, on University Square in Southend’s town centre, is known for its bold design, but the buildings, which reach up to 10-storeys high, will now be revamped.

The colourful exterior will now change to “subdued tones”.

The cladding has been found to be a fire risk and not up to Government standard so it will be replaced by December 2023.

This comes after the Grenfell tower block fire in 2017, which killed 72 people.


Unsafe cladding had been used on the London building, prompting an urgent inquiry.

Colin Nickless, 45, who launched a fire safety campaign across Southend in 2019 to raise awareness of dangerous cladding, said: “This type of cladding is extremely dangerous, especially where people are sleeping.

“I raised the cladding on this building as an issue during my campaign.

“It’s been known about for some time.”

The cladding on the university buildings, high pressure composite, is the same used at the Cube, a student accommodation in Bolton.

The Cube caught fire in devastating fashion in 2019, with the cladding blamed for how quickly the fire spread.

The subtle colours of the new exterior will include a pattern, which could be fish scale, horizontal banding, speckled, or a combination. It is yet to be decided.

The three clock faces at the top of the university buildings will also become digital instead.

A spokesman from the University of Essex said: “Our review of cladding at University Square confirmed the system is not the same as that used at Grenfell, but it also highlighted it does not meet Government guidance. We are now planning to replace all cladding and insulation materials at University Square, to meet the Government’s new enhanced fire standards.

“We’ve put in place a number of mitigation measures which means the building can continue to be occupied safely. These include no residential occupancy above 18 metres and enhanced security provision 24/7.

“We also have a policy of full evacuation in the event of a fire alarm activation as opposed to a stay put policy.”

Southend Council, who were contacted for comment, have approved the plans.