Grenfell: Government still undecided on future of site
The government has yet to determine what will become of the site of Grenfell Tower, following a blaze that killed 72 people in June 2017.
The news emerged in the government’s response to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee’s report on building regulations and fire safety.
The government took ownership of the Grenfell Tower site on 15 July this year and now has the power to make operational decisions relating to its safety and security. It said in its response: “No decisions about the future of the site have yet been made but the government has committed to ensuring the bereaved, survivors and community will lead decision-making regarding a fitting and lasting memorial.”
The government has so far spent £89m supporting the local community following the fire and has committed an additional £61m to pay for rehousing costs, investment in the Lancaster West estate and a new community space.
Meanwhile, the government said it would respond to a consultation on its proposals to reform of the building safety system, called Building a Safer Future, by the end of the year and that it intended to bring forward legislation “at the earliest opportunity”.
Fire safety guidance
Following Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent review into Building Regulations and fire safety, the government has already introduced a ban on combustible materials being used for cladding of residential buildings over 18m in height and some other buildings, and it has published a clarified version of the Building Regulations fire safety guidance (Approved Document B).
There has also been a call for evidence to inform a review of fire safety requirements in Approved Document B. It added: “We are working with the construction industry and regulators to drive early delivery on improving industry competence and behaviour. The Early Adopters Scheme has been encouraging industry to step up and do the right thing by taking voluntary, early action to make buildings safer. They have launched a Building Safety Charter as a step towards spearheading culture and behavioural change across the construction industry.”
And the government has established a Joint Regulators group to develop new approaches and assist with the transition to a new regulatory framework.
The government rejected criticism from the Committee that it was not moving quickly enough to establish building safety reforms, saying: “Our consultation, ‘Building a Safer Future: proposals for reform of the building safety regulatory system’, closed on 31 July 2019. It outlines how we propose to implement meaningful legislative reform and invites views on the proposed changes. Implementation will move us to a proactive system where developers and building owners take responsibility for ensuring that residents are safe. At its heart is the concept of the safety case, which provides assurance through the full life-cycle of a building and will be overseen by a new regulatory body with stronger enforcement powers. To make change on this scale across a complex market and regulatory landscape will take time.”