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Government confirms cladding ban, announces homes ombudsman

2 October 2018 | By Neil Gerrard

ID 96001388 © Korn Vitthayanukarun | Dreamstime.com

The government has confirmed a ban on combustible cladding on the external walls of high-rise buildings, as reported by CM yesterday.

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said it would ban the use of combustible materials on external walls of all buildings that contain flats, as well as hospitals, residential care premises and student accommodation above 18 metres.

The ban will be delivered through changes to Building Regulations guidance and will limit materials available to products achieving a European classification of Class A1 or A2.

The announcement came as the government confirmed it was also speeding up the planning system to help deliver on its target of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid 2020s.

Changes include allowing more flexibility to extend upwards on existing blocks of flats, shops and offices as well as championing councils keen to create new garden communities. The government will also allow local authorities additional freedom to make the most of existing brownfield land and to dispose of surplus land that could instead accommodate new homes.

The government also confirmed that there will be a New Homes Ombudsman – a watchdog to champion homebuyers. MHCLG said it intended to legislate to require all new developers to belong to the ombudsman.

Reacting to the news, Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) chief executive Chris Blythe, said: "Although the classic ‘the devil’s in the detail’ phase applies, with the commitment to a new homes ombudsman the government has taken a significant step in offering greater consumer protection and improving the build quality of new homes. It is an opportunity for housebuilders to adopt a ‘get it right first time’ attitude. With this, we all win; buyers get good quality homes, the industry gets the capacity to build more and the opportunity to restore its reputation.

"Support for the new homes ombudsman is strong and the government must now work with consumers, industry and professional bodies to develop its proposals. Indeed, they have an excellent starting point on how such an ombudsman could work in the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Excellence in the Built Environment’s better redress for homebuyers report published in June.

"What’s clear is that this could be a significant and meaningful change to help address the industry’s culture, driving up standards and professionalism across the sector."

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