The Government has pledged to restructure building regulations fire safety guidance to ensure it is clear, as part of a series of commitments made following Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent review of building regulations and fire safety.
It will consult on banning the use of combustible materials in cladding systems on high-rise residential buildings and has committed to banning desktop studies as a way of assessing the fire performance of external cladding systems if the current consultation – which closes on 25 May – does not demonstrate that they can be safely used.
It has also committed to ensuring that residents have a better mechanism for blowing the whistle on landlords who do not maintain safe buildings; changing the law to achieve meaningful and lasting reform of the building regulatory system, with strong sanctions for those who fail to comply and inviting views to inform how the government could implement major reform of the regulatory system.
This is in addition to the £400 million recently announced by the Prime Minister to fully fund local authorities and housing associations with the removal and replacement of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding, the type used on Grenfell Tower, on social housing buildings above 18 metres.
Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said: “It has been deeply moving to hear directly from the Grenfell Tower survivors and community in my first few weeks as Secretary of State.
“This was a terrible tragedy that should never have happened. I welcome Dame Judith Hackitt’s comprehensive report and her calls for fundamental reform in the building sector. I am committed to making that happen as quickly as possible.
“The cladding believed to be on Grenfell Tower was unlawful under existing building regulations. It should not have been used. I will ensure there is no room for doubt over what materials can be used safely. Having listened carefully to concerns, I will consult on banning the use of combustible materials in cladding systems on high-rise residential buildings.
“We must ensure the tragedy at Grenfell brings change and I call on the industry to work with me to achieve the urgent reform needed.”
Dame Judith Hackitt’s review was commissioned in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and has concluded that significant systemic reform is needed spanning every aspect of the ‘life’ of a high-rise building – from design to construction to ownership and ongoing management.
The review has found that regulations and guidance are misunderstood, and oversight and enforcement are inadequate. The recommendations set out a new regulatory system and Dame Judith says a collaborative approach is crucial, bringing together government, industry and the community.