TENANTS’ safety in Oxford tower blocks is being given a boost with the introduction of a new sprinkler system.

The improvement will be included in the £18m redevelopment of the city council blocks, following a request from the county’s fire brigade.

The council agreed on Thursday to spend an extra £1.74m on its plans to redevelop the five towers.

Balconies are also to be enclosed and more parking provided following requests by residents during the consultation process.

City councillor Scott Seamons said: “The fire service came to us and said we should put sprinklers in, and the rest of the changes reflect what came out of the consultation.

“Residents said they wanted the balconies to be enclosed. We are doing this job once, so we want to do it properly and make it as good as it can be.”

As well as the new sprinkler system and the enclosed balconies, the extra money will also pay for landscaping and more parking.

Assistant chief fire officer Simon Furlong said: “We have been working in partnership with the city council to ensure that the tower block are refurbished to provide a safe living and working environment.”

The city council will now be spending a total of £18.3m on the scheme to refurbish Hockmore, Evenlode, Foresters, Plowman and Windrush towers.

The blocks, which were built in the 1960s, have a total of 348 flats and are home to more than 700 people.

The revamp will include work on the blocks’ structure, with new cladding, better insulation, replacement windows, replacement heating and new lifts.

The council’s executive board agreed on Thursday to go out to tender for the building work, expected to begin next June.