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Government adopts all Hackitt’s recommendations

18 December 2018 | By Neil Gerrard

James Brokenshire

The government will adopt all of the recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt in her review of Building Regulations and fire safety following the Grenfell Tower disaster, it has confirmed.

It has published a full implementation plan, entitled Building a Safer Future, which sets out a programme of reform.

The government pledged to create a “more effective regulatory and accountability framework” to provide “greater oversight” of the construction industry.

It also promised clearer standards and guidance, including establishing a new Standards Committee to advise on construction product and system standards and regulations.

Meanwhile, residents will be given “more effective” routes for engagement and redress, and the government said it would help create a culture change and “more responsible building industry”.

A Joint Regulators’ Group will trial elements of a new regulatory system ahead of any proposed legislation.

The group aims to bring existing regulatory bodies together to work with developers and building owners, as well as seeking input from residents.

In addition to the implementation plan, the government has also launched a full review of fire safety guidance within Building Regulations and issued a call for evidence that will gather expert advice on the “full range” of fire safety issues before any potential revision of the guidance.

The government is also inviting views from residents and those who manage buildings on how to improve fire and structural safety.

Following the Grenfell Tower disaster, the government already announced it would ban the use of combustible materials on all new schools, hospitals, care homes, student accommodation and residential buildings in England and Wales above 18m in height.

Plastics, wood and products that include combustible materials such as aluminium composite material (ACM) panels will be banned in the external wall systems. The only materials that will be allowed are those classed as A1 or A2, including metal, stone and glass, or plasterboard. The change will mean that the use of many insulation materials such as types of phenolic foam and polyisocyanurate foam will be banned.

The ban comes into force on 21 December.

Secretary of state for communities, James Brokenshire said: “My plan for stronger, tougher rules will make sure there is no hiding place for those who flout building safety rules.

“By making people responsible and more accountable for safety, we will create a more rigorous system so residents will always have peace of mind that they are safe in their own homes.”

Chris Blythe OBE, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), said in response to the government’s implementation plan: “There is a lot in this comprehensive document which supports the work the CIOB and their partner organisations - including RICS and RIBA - have been doing. We will now examine and absorb the detail in the document, pull together all the different aspects of quality in construction that we have been working on, and work with government on the next steps to create and implement the framework they want in place to ensure building safety now and in the future.”

LABC chief executive, Paul Everall, added: “The secretary of state has shown leadership by recognising the need for systemic reform of the building safety regime by implementing Dame Judith Hackitt recommendations in full.

“LABC has pledged to provide full support to the new Joint Regulators Group and we are ready with resources, people and expertise.  LABC already has the largest group of experienced building control surveyors with demonstrable competency in fire safety in England and Wales – all validated by the Institution of Fire Engineers.  And we have been heavily investing in standards and competencies – supported by our UKAS accredited quality management systems.  This has combined with a 16% rise in recruitment across public service building control which means we are ideally placed to provide the expert support this shadow regulator needs.”

Jonathan O’Neill, managing director of the Fire Protection Association said: “The Fire Protection Association are particularly encouraged by the announcement for a review of the fire aspects of the building regulations, but state that 18 months after the tragedy at Grenfell, this exercise is long overdue and needs to be concluded quickly.

“We welcome the acknowledgement of the value of third-party certificated products, but believe this assurance should be mandated and extend to the installers of products and the risk assessors. There is clearly much to do but we are keen to see change as soon as possible and will help in any way we can to ensure that we never experience a tragedy on the scale we witnessed at Grenfell – on our or any future generations’ watch.”

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