Law News

Combustible Cladding Ban should not be Restricted to High-Rise Residential Buildings

Em Morley - July 23, 2018

Dame Judith Hackitt’s review has proposed a ban of combustible cladding, and the House of Commons housing committee believes that this should not be restricted to just high-rise residential buildings.

All existing buildings and residential homes, hospitals, student accommodation and hotels should also be included, the committee has stated.

The committee released a report last week, outlining several conflicts of interest within the construction industry that need to be dealt with. Specific concerns include the fact that builders can appoint their own inspectors. This opens up the possibility that those appointed may have a commercial interest in turning a blind eye to bad practice.

The report goes on to conclude that sprinklers are a vital addition to all high-rise residential buildings, as they provide an extra safety precaution, which the government should recognise by providing funding for installation in council and housing association-owned buildings.

It has also been proposed that a low-interest scheme should be introduced for private rented sector (PRS) building owners, as a way of encouraging them to make changes without it financially affecting leaseholders.

Clive Betts MP, chair of the committee, said: “We are now more than a year on from the catastrophic events at Grenfell Tower, yet despite an independent review of building regulations (led by Dame Judith Hackitt), we are still no closer to having a system that inspires confidence that residents can be safe and secure in their homes.

“We agree with the independent review that there is a need for a fundamental change of culture in the construction industry, but there are also measures that can and should be introduced now.

“We welcome the intention of the government to ban combustible cladding, but the proposals do not go far enough. A ban on dangerous cladding must be extended beyond new high-rise constructions, to existing residential buildings as well as other high-risk buildings.

“The industry is riven with conflicts of interest at every turn, with manufacturers choosing the most lenient testing bodies for their products. It just cannot be right that builders get to choose who marks their homework and urgent action is needed to make sure this does not continue. Fire Rescue Authorities should not be able to pass judgement on the work of their own commercial trading arms.

“The current complicated web of building regulations is compromising safety and putting people at risk in their own homes. It desperately needs both simplifying and strengthening and the government must act now before more lives are lost.”