Government calls for building owners to remove combustible materials from balconies

An advice note issued on 24 June provides advice on the risks arising from balconies on residential buildings.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) called on building owners to remove combustible materials from balconies 'as soon as is practicable'.

The advice comes following the fire at a Sheppard-Robson designed block at Barking Riverside, which destroyed 20 flats and damaged a further 10. Videos taken by residents showed the timber-clad balconies bursting into flames.

In its note, MHCLG said: "The removal of and replacement of any combustible material used in balcony construction is the clearest way to prevent external fire spread from balconies and therefore to meet the intention of building regulation requirements and this should occur as soon as practical."

The use of combustible materials on the cladding or balconies of buildings over 18m in height has been banned since the end of last year.

Before the ban was introduced, building regulations for blocks of all heights stated: "The external walls of the building shall adequately resist the spread of fire over the walls and from one building to another, having regard to the height, use and location of the building."

A BRE report from 2016 found that there was currently no specific guidance for balconies in Approved Document B, other than where balconies are designed as a 'means of escape'.

It has recently emerged that fire experts had warned that the wooden balconies at Barking Riverside were a 'significant hazard' months before the fire.

Download the government's advice note here.

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Cladding Fire safety