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Grenfell review will not call for ban on combustible cladding Grenfell review will not call for ban on combustible cladding
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A government review of building regulations will not recommend an explicit ban on combustible cladding and insulation, despite persistent demands from Grenfell Tower survivors and fire safety experts.A government review of building regulations will not recommend an explicit ban on combustible cladding and insulation, despite persistent demands from Grenfell Tower survivors and fire safety experts.
A demand from Grenfell Tower survivors for combustible cladding and insulation to be explicitly banned is set to be overlooked in a government review of building regulations to be published on Thursday. Survivors of the blaze, the Royal Institute of British Architects, and politicians have all called on the government to ban construction materials that burn.A demand from Grenfell Tower survivors for combustible cladding and insulation to be explicitly banned is set to be overlooked in a government review of building regulations to be published on Thursday. Survivors of the blaze, the Royal Institute of British Architects, and politicians have all called on the government to ban construction materials that burn.
Dame Judith Hackitt, a former chairwoman of the Health and Safety Executive, is not expected to propose an outright prohibition on products similar to those which appeared to spread fire at Grenfell killing 71 people almost a year ago. Dame Judith Hackitt, a former chairwoman of the Health and Safety Executive, is not expected to propose an outright prohibition on products similar to those that appeared to spread fire at Grenfell almost a year ago, killing 71 people.
Hackitt is expected to argue instead for wider reforms of the system, including toughening up fire testing and the way buildings are certified as safe. Sources said she believes such changes would mean contractors and architects would not in effect be able to use such materials. She is also expected to urge the government to move rapidly.Hackitt is expected to argue instead for wider reforms of the system, including toughening up fire testing and the way buildings are certified as safe. Sources said she believes such changes would mean contractors and architects would not in effect be able to use such materials. She is also expected to urge the government to move rapidly.
Speaking before the publication of her review on Thursday, Hackitt, defended her approach and said it was more important to have a tough system that sanctioned those who cut corners.Speaking before the publication of her review on Thursday, Hackitt, defended her approach and said it was more important to have a tough system that sanctioned those who cut corners.
She said: “The guidance already says that the only type of cladding that you can use on high-rise buildings must either be of limited combustibility or must be subject to a full test. To make this effective you have to go beyond simply simply specifying what can and can’t be used.”She said: “The guidance already says that the only type of cladding that you can use on high-rise buildings must either be of limited combustibility or must be subject to a full test. To make this effective you have to go beyond simply simply specifying what can and can’t be used.”
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “You have to put gateways in place that hold those people to account and pick them up if they do try to short-cut the system. If this was as simple as simply banning cladding this would have been a very much easier exercise. This is a broken system and it needs to be fixed.She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “You have to put gateways in place that hold those people to account and pick them up if they do try to short-cut the system. If this was as simple as simply banning cladding this would have been a very much easier exercise. This is a broken system and it needs to be fixed.
But Sandra Ruiz, whose niece died at Grenfell, said she feared that not explicitly banning combustible cladding was a way to minimise disruption to the building industry and ran the risked of further failures. But Sandra Ruiz, whose niece died at Grenfell, said she feared that not explicitly banning combustible cladding was a way to minimise disruption to the building industry and ran the risk of further failures.
“If her thought process is to make these materials difficult to be used then why not just ban them?” she said. “Seventy-two people died. Take them away completely and don’t run the risk again.”“If her thought process is to make these materials difficult to be used then why not just ban them?” she said. “Seventy-two people died. Take them away completely and don’t run the risk again.”
Asked if she was ignoring the views of survivors, Hackitt said: “I have talked to residents from Grenfell. I absolutely recognise their level of concern and distress. I hope that when they see the content of my report and when they read all of the changes that I want to make to this system to make it more robust that they will recognise it is about more than simply issuing a ban on certain materials. It needs a whole system change.”Asked if she was ignoring the views of survivors, Hackitt said: “I have talked to residents from Grenfell. I absolutely recognise their level of concern and distress. I hope that when they see the content of my report and when they read all of the changes that I want to make to this system to make it more robust that they will recognise it is about more than simply issuing a ban on certain materials. It needs a whole system change.”
For the last 10 months Hackitt has been investigating building regulations after it emerged the method used to clad Grenfell was not unique and that more than 300 towers used similar combustible cladding which had also been approved by building inspectors across the country.For the last 10 months Hackitt has been investigating building regulations after it emerged the method used to clad Grenfell was not unique and that more than 300 towers used similar combustible cladding which had also been approved by building inspectors across the country.
Geoff Wilkinson, a fire safety expert and building consultant, said he was concerned that any proposal for wholesale reform of the system could take time and so create uncertainty while thousands of residents watched the cladding on their buildings stripped and waited to find out what the replacement should be.Geoff Wilkinson, a fire safety expert and building consultant, said he was concerned that any proposal for wholesale reform of the system could take time and so create uncertainty while thousands of residents watched the cladding on their buildings stripped and waited to find out what the replacement should be.
“The simple solution that doesn’t risk more mistakes is to only use non-combustible cladding,” he said.“The simple solution that doesn’t risk more mistakes is to only use non-combustible cladding,” he said.
Grenfell Tower was clad in aluminium panels which had a combustible plastic core. It was backed by synthetic insulation which was also classed as combustible. The system was approved by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s building inspectors after 16 visits. Grenfell Tower was clad in aluminium panels which had a combustible plastic core. It was backed by synthetic insulation that was also classed as combustible. The system was approved by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s building inspectors after 16 visits.
The UK’s highly complex building regulations system runs to over 1,600 pages. Hackitt has described it as “not fit for purpose” and said it left “room for those who want to take short cuts to do so”.The UK’s highly complex building regulations system runs to over 1,600 pages. Hackitt has described it as “not fit for purpose” and said it left “room for those who want to take short cuts to do so”.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government declined to comment before the review publication.The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government declined to comment before the review publication.
So far, 158 social housing towers have been found to be wrapped in combustible cladding which is unlikely to meet current building regulations guidance. While the building regulations remain under review, many landlords do not know what materials to use to replace the cladding on the buildings. So far, 158 social housing towers have been found to be wrapped in combustible cladding that is unlikely to meet current building regulations guidance. While the building regulations remain under review, many landlords do not know what materials to use to replace the cladding on the buildings.
However on Wednesday the prime minister announced the government would pay at least £400m for the cladding to be taken down and replaced, following pressure from councils who said they could not afford the works.However on Wednesday the prime minister announced the government would pay at least £400m for the cladding to be taken down and replaced, following pressure from councils who said they could not afford the works.
“Councils and housing associations must remove dangerous cladding quickly, but paying for these works must not undermine their ability to do important maintenance and repair work,” Theresa May told the House of Commons.“Councils and housing associations must remove dangerous cladding quickly, but paying for these works must not undermine their ability to do important maintenance and repair work,” Theresa May told the House of Commons.
The chancellor, Philip Hammond, said the decision was taken partly because “we do not want vital safety work to put at risk our high-priority housebuilding programmes”.The chancellor, Philip Hammond, said the decision was taken partly because “we do not want vital safety work to put at risk our high-priority housebuilding programmes”.
There is currently no funding for dozens more privately owned blocks which are affected and Downing Street said it expected private building owners to “take responsibility for removing and replacing and to not pass the cost on to leaseholders”. There is currently no funding for dozens more privately owned blocks that are affected and Downing Street said it expected private building owners to “take responsibility for removing and replacing and to not pass the cost on to leaseholders”.
Labour welcomed the funding announcement, but said it should not have taken so long. The Local Government Association, which represents councils, said: “It is great that the government has honoured its commitment from last summer to meet the unexpected exceptional costs for councils.”Labour welcomed the funding announcement, but said it should not have taken so long. The Local Government Association, which represents councils, said: “It is great that the government has honoured its commitment from last summer to meet the unexpected exceptional costs for councils.”
The government has also admitted that many survivors of the Grenfell fire will still be living in emergency accommodation such as hotels 12 months after the disaster. The housing secretary, James Brokenshire, admitted in the Commons that the community would feel “disappointed and let down”.The government has also admitted that many survivors of the Grenfell fire will still be living in emergency accommodation such as hotels 12 months after the disaster. The housing secretary, James Brokenshire, admitted in the Commons that the community would feel “disappointed and let down”.
Of the 210 households who need a new home, 72 have moved into neither permanent nor temporary accommodation.Of the 210 households who need a new home, 72 have moved into neither permanent nor temporary accommodation.
“It was always going to be a challenge to respond to an unprecedented tragedy on this scale,” Brokenshire said. “It has taken time to purchase suitable homes, adapt and refurbish them to meet people’s needs and the higher safety standards, but this is clearly not good enough.”“It was always going to be a challenge to respond to an unprecedented tragedy on this scale,” Brokenshire said. “It has taken time to purchase suitable homes, adapt and refurbish them to meet people’s needs and the higher safety standards, but this is clearly not good enough.”
The public inquiry into the Grenfell fire starts on Monday with two weeks of tributes to the deceased by their friends and family.The public inquiry into the Grenfell fire starts on Monday with two weeks of tributes to the deceased by their friends and family.
Grenfell Tower fireGrenfell Tower fire
Construction industryConstruction industry
HousingHousing
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