Grenfell review: Govt is considering cladding ban

The announcement in the Commons from housing, communities and local government secretary James Brokenshire follows anger at a review into the deadly blaze, which stopped short of recommending such a move.

Dame Judith Hackitt’s report was labelled a “whitewash” and a “total betrayal” by campaigners and MPs when it emerged outlawing flammable cladding, blamed by many for the spread of the fire, was not among more than 50 recommendations.

She also did not recommend a ban on so-called “desktop studies” – assessments that can be used to approve cladding without physical fire safety tests taking place.

Grenfell review: Govt is considering cladding ban
Grenfell review: Govt is considering cladding ban

Ms Hackitt told a Commons committee that “simply fixing cladding is not the only solution”.

But she admitted that “in not addressing that within the report, I recognise that I’ve failed to reach some of the expectations of the people of Grenfell Tower”.

Speaking in the Parliament just hours after the report’s publication, Mr Brokenshire said: “We are consulting on significantly restricting or banning the use of desktop studies to assess cladding systems.”


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He told MPs he wanted to make sure there was “no room for doubt” about what materials could be used on high-rise buildings.

Mr Brokenshire added: “Having listened carefully to concerns, the government will consult on banning the use of combustible materials in cladding systems on high-rise residential buildings.”

The MP said new legislation would be introduced to deliver “meaningful and lasting” change to the building safety system.

Shadow housing secretary John Healey called for action now.

He said: “It really beggars belief that this report continues to give a green light to combustible materials on high-rise blocks.

“I say to the secretary of state, don’t consult on it. Do it. Seventy-two people died in Grenfell Tower.

“In Australia, they had a high-rise fire in 2014. They now have a ban. In Dubai, they had a high-rise fire in 2015. They have a ban.

“We must do the same. We owe it to the Grenfell residents, and we owe it to residents living today in other tower blocks with the same Grenfell-style cladding.”

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Dame Judith’s report said radical changes are needed to fix the “broken” system of building regulations in the wake of the deadly fire.

It concluded that indifference and ignorance led to a “race to the bottom” on building safety practices, with cost put ahead of safety.

On cladding, Dame Judith said a ban would “not address the root causes” of the “broken system” of building regulations. But she said

Among the more than 50 recommendations were calls for:

:: “Products that are critical to the safety” of tower blocks [including combustible cladding] should be retested by manufacturers at least once every three years

:: A “clear, senior” building owner or landlord should be on a register and held responsible for all safety aspects of a tower block

:: A “Joint Competent Authority” should be created made up of local authority building standards, fire and rescue, and the Health and Safety Executive

CGI reconstruction of Grenfell


Video:Step by step recreation of a survivor’s escape

:: As in aviation, it should be compulsory for concerns to be reported. Council planners should be required to consult it over new tower blocks and new buildings that impact on existing ones

:: Residents should have the right to see safety documents and any concerns from them should be escalated “to an independent body”

:: More construction product testing facilities should be created and they should all be required to publish a summary of passes and failures [at present they say it is all commercially confidential].

Grenfell United, the Local Government Association and the Equality and Human Rights Commission all described the report as “disappointing”.

The Royal Institute of British Architects said the review should have been a “defining moment”, but instead it was “extremely concerned that it has failed to act on the urgent need to immediately protect life safety through a more detailed programme of simplified and improved regulations, standards and guidance”.

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