The government has clarified building regulations fire safety guidance, following recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt, and is seeking views on the revisions in a consultation launched today (Thursday 19 July).
The Secretary of State for Communities, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, has also said he will go further by conducting a full-scale review of the guidelines, known as ‘Approved Document B’, commencing in the autumn.
The technical review will assess, amongst other things, whether the underlying policy should be updated to reflect modern building practice, the latest understanding of fire risks and technical and scientific innovations.
Alongside the consultation and review of Approved Document B, the government has also announced a package of additional measures to strengthen safety:
- establishing a panel, made up of residents, to ensure proposed safety improvements are grounded in the experience of those who live in high-rise buildings
- Dame Judith Hackitt will chair a soon-to-be established Industry Safety Steering Group to drive the culture change needed to improve safety and hold industry to account
- working with a small group of organisations from industry to pilot safety improvements in line with Dame Judith Hackitt’s recommendations, demonstrating early leadership on building safety reform
- introducing a mandatory requirement on landlords in the private rented sector to ensure electrical installations in their property are inspected every 5 years
Secretary of State for Communities, the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said:
There is nothing more important than ensuring people are safe in their own homes. That is why I am announcing a package of measures focused on improving building safety, having listened carefully to the concerns which have been raised.
Dame Judith’s report sets out the right framework to improve safety but I will not hesitate to go further than the recommendations where I deem it necessary. That is why I am going further than my original commitment to simply clarify the guidelines, by commencing an end-to-end technical review of the fire safety aspects of building regulations in the autumn."
During the summer, the government has:
Launched a consultation on banning the use of combustible materials in the external walls of high-rise residential buildings which are 18 metres and above. The consultation closes on 14 August.
Consulted on banning or restricting the use of ‘desktop studies’ from being used to assess the fire performance of cladding systems, unless our separate consultation demonstrates that they can be safely used. The consultation has closed and the government is reviewing the responses.
Made available £400 million to fund the removal and replacement of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding in the social sector. Local authorities and housing associations can apply here.
Announced further action to support local authorities as they work with building owners to remove potentially unsafe cladding on private sector high-rise residential buildings.
Approved Document B
Approved Document B is a part of the building regulations guidance in England covering fire safety matters within and around buildings.
The government is consulting on clarified guidance and has launched a consultation today. The government also intends to carry out a wider technical review, in line with standard practice. A call for evidence will be published this autumn seeking views on the technical issues contained within the document.