Arundel Gate: Traffic chaos and residents left shocked after cladding becomes loose on Sheffield’s tallest building

Commuters faced traffic chaos and residents were left shocked after loose cladding on Sheffield’s tallest building led to the closure of a major city centre road.

Arundel Gate was closed from around midnight on Wednesday following a report that a panel of cladding was loose on the 31st floor of St Paul’s Tower Loft building.

Structural engineers assess the loose cladding. Picture: Sam Cooper / The Star.

Structural engineers assess the loose cladding. Picture: Sam Cooper / The Star.

Bus services were forced to divert during the morning rush-hour as brave engineers scaled the building and carried out an assessment.

READ MORE: LIVE: Arundel Gate reopens after being closed for 12 hours over building safety fears

Traffic built up on Eyre Street, Furnival Street, Shoreham Street and Pinstone Street due to the diversions and people living in St Paul’s Tower said nobody had told them the reason for cordon.

Chris Shepherd, 28, who lives on the 15th floor, said he originally thought there had been another stabbing in the city.

Structural engineers assess the loose cladding. Picture: Sam Cooper / The Star.

Structural engineers assess the loose cladding. Picture: Sam Cooper / The Star.

He said: “I only knew about it when I opened the blinds this morning and saw all the police tape and barriers.

“I thought it was a stabbing at first. I am not too worried about safety because it’s cladding on the outside and they shut the road quickly.”

READ MORE: ARUNDEL GATE: Everything on tower block concerns we know so far

Engineers scaled the building at around 11am and two abseiled down the side of the building facing Arundel Gate to carry out an inspection and make repairs.

Arundel Gate was closed for more than 12 hours. Picture: Chris Etchells

Arundel Gate was closed for more than 12 hours. Picture: Chris Etchells

Xen Ji, 22, a physics student at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “I have not been told what’s happening at all.

“I live on the 17th floor and I was quite worried when I first saw all the police tape outside.”

READ MORE: Arundel Gate road closure: Six facts about Sheffield’s £40million St Paul’s Tower

Katie Smithwood, 21, who is also a student at Sheffield Hallam University, said she had also not been told any information by her landlord or the building's owners.

Arundel Gate was closed for more than 12 hours. Picture: Chris Etchells

Arundel Gate was closed for more than 12 hours. Picture: Chris Etchells

She added: “I couldn’t get into the Stoddart building, I had to use the car park entrance. It’s quite worrying to think what would have happened if the cladding fell but the council were very quick to close the road last night.”

The £40 million tower is the tallest building in Sheffield sitting at 101m. The 32-storey tower was completed in August 2010 as part of the St Paul’s Place development, which includes the Q Park multi-storey car park, casino and three office blocks.

Arundel Gate reopened at 12.30pm on Wednesday after engineers finished their work.

Coun Jack Scott, Cabinet member for transport and development at Sheffield Council, said: “We were alerted last night a potential loose cladding panel on the 31st floor of the St Paul’s Loft building, thought to be due to high winds. Nothing has fallen from the building.

“Following inspection, it was decided to declare an exclusion zone on Arundel Gate from its junction with Furnival Gate.

“Specialist abseiling teams were sent to the site to re-secure the panel with the full co-operation of the building owners and tenants.

Traffic on Furnival Gate roundabout on Wednesday morning.

Traffic on Furnival Gate roundabout on Wednesday morning.

“The exclusion zone remained in place until the work had been safely carried out.”