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Independent building regulations review launched

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The government has announced an independent review of building regulations and fire safety as it published the first results of the comprehensive cladding tests.

Dame Judith Hackitt, a chemical engineer who is now chair of manufacturers’ organisation EEF, will lead the independent review which will look at current building regulations and fire safety with a particular focus on high rise residential buildings. It will report jointly to the communities secretary Sajid Javid and home secretary Amber Rudd.

It will examine:

  • the regulatory system around the design, construction and on-going management of buildings in relation to fire safety;
  • related compliance and enforcement issues;
  • international regulation and experience in this area.

Mr Javid said: “It’s clear we need to urgently look at building regulations and fire safety. This independent review will ensure we can swiftly make any necessary improvements. Government is determined to make sure that we learn the lessons from the Grenfell Tower fire, and to ensure nothing like it can happen again.”

The first large scale tests showed there are 82 buildings with Grenfell Tower-type cladding. The Department for Communities & Local Government said 47 of those are local authority or housing association owned or managed. A spokesman told LGC the department was unwilling to provide a breakdown of the number owned or managed by councils.

However, in response Local Government Association chair Lord Porter (Con) said: “Of the high rise blocks affected by these latest fire safety tests, nine are owned by Salford Council which continues to work hard to remove and replace the cladding system on these tower blocks and reassure residents about safety - as it has done ever since the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The rest of the affected buildings are all owned by housing associations, private and other landlords.”

Lord Porter said councils which own blocks with different combinations of aluminium composite material cladding and insulation on them were undertaking works to make them safe.

“While councils are getting on with doing what they need to do, significant concerns remain about the financial implications,” he said. “The government needs to commit to meeting exceptional costs for councils arising from any major remedial work, such as the removal and replacement of cladding system.

“It is clear that the tragedy at Grenfell Tower has exposed a systemic failure of the current system of building regulation. With test fails on buildings owned by a range of landlords across the country, we are pleased the government has accepted our call to begin an urgent and immediate review of building regulations. Local government must play a central role in this review from the outset.”

Lord Porter also reinterated his call for the results of all fire safety tests carried out by industry to be made public.

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