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Government to consult over ban on combustible materials

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The housing and communities secretary James Brokenshire announced on Thursday that the government will start a consultation on banning combustible materials on high rise tower blocks.

The consultation will aim to take in recommendations from industry specialists on the use of combustible materials as well as desktop studies, Mr Brokenshire told Parliament.

This comes after the government review into building regulations and fire safety, led by Dame Judith Hackitt, did not recommend a ban in its report published this morning. She did, however, later say that she would support a ban on the use of combustible materials on high rise tower blocks if the government proposed to do it.

Mr Brokenshire said: “The cladding believed to be on Grenfell Tower was unlawful under existing building regulations. It should not have been used. I will ensure that there is no room for doubt over what materials can be used safely in cladding of high-rise residential buildings. Having listened carefully to concerns, the government will consult on banning the use of combustible materials in cladding systems on high-rise residential buildings.”

A consultation on restricting the use of desktop studies is already underway.

Mr Brokenshire said: “The inappropriate use of desktop studies is unacceptable and I will not hesitate to ban them if the consultation, which closes on the 25th of May, does not demonstrate they can be used safely.”

The communities secretary said a final report would be published by the end of autumn, with an update due before the summer recess.

Lord Porter (Con), chair of the Local Government Association, said: “The LGA has strongly made the case for banning the use of combustible materials on high-rise and complex buildings and for outlawing the use of desktop studies that attempt to approve safety compliance.

“It is great that the secretary of state has listened to our concerns. He has rightly recognised the need to take action to tackle these two important issues while the long-term reforms to fix our building regulation system, set out in Dame Judith Hackitt’s report today, are put into place.

“We would urge the government to introduce these bans as quickly as possible as they are the vital and immediate measures needed to make buildings safer today.”

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