Combustible cladding ban set to widen to all housing over four storeys

A ban on the use of combustible cladding in high-rise homes is set to hit all buildings with four or more storeys under plans the government is putting out to consultation.

The policy is one of a raft of measures announced by housing secretary Robert Jenrick as he outlined his response to a consultation on sprinklers and the Grenfell Inquiry phase one.

A snap ban on putting combustible materials in cladding systems in England had already been introduced in November 2018, but only applied to buildings above 18m tall. Now the ban is set to be extended to all residential buildings over 11m, unless the government is convinced to change course during the consultation. 

Jenrick also revealed that the government is minded to mandate sprinklers in all buildings of 11m or taller – a reduction from the 18m proposed by government when the policy went to consultation. Policies on sprinkler height and the use of ACM cladding is devolved, meaning Jenrick's announcement does not apply to Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Jenrick also said a new regulator for building safety will start operating in shadow form in a matter of weeks, under the umbrella of workplace safety regulator Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Judith Hackitt, a former chair of the HSE and author of the post-Grenfell review of fire standards and building regulation, will chair the board overseeing the creation of the new regulator.

The body will operate in shadow form until legislation is brought forward to give them defined powers to inspect with respect to certain regulations. 

The UK's first ever national chief inspector of buildings will be recruited shortly, while the regulator will draw on the experience of other regulators when implementing the new regime.

Jenrick also said he was extending a ban on ACM cladding with a polythylene core on all buildings, and not just high-rise housing. But he said action on removing dangerous ACM cladding from residential tower blocks had been 'unacceptably slow', adding that he would name and shame the owners of high-rise buildings with ACM cladding where remediation work had not begun from next month.

Article source: Architects' Journal

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