Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Grenfell: review into combustable cladding falls short, LGA warns

Grenfell: review into combustable cladding falls short, LGA warns

Dame Judith Hackitt, who led the review, said that "deep flaws" have been identified in the current system, far beyond the question of the specification of cladding systems.

For the last 10 months Hackitt has been investigating building regulations after it emerged the method used to clad Grenfell was not unique and that more than 300 towers used similar combustible cladding which had also been approved by building inspectors across the country.

During Prime Minister's Questions this week Theresa May told MPs: "I can today confirm that the Government will fully fund the removal and replacement of risky cladding by councils and housing associations, estimated at £400m".

According to BBC News, Dame Judith's appointment to lead the review had been met with some criticism due to her former role as director of the Energy Saving Trust.

She also found ignorance about the rules, a lack of clarity about who takes responsibility and inadequate oversight.

The government is clear that building owners in the private sector must ensure private sector homes are made safe.

In a brief statement ahead of the report's publication the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: The report is forward looking and focused on establishing a sufficiently robust regulatory system for the future, in this way providing assurance to residents that the buildings they live in are safe and remain so.

Hackitt recommended that the new regulatory framework be simpler, more effective, and "truly outcomes-based", as well as transparency and an audit trail throughout the life cycle of a building from the planning stage to occupation and maintenance to provide reassurance and evidence that a building is safe. "When we met Dame Judith, we looked her in the eye and we asked her - among other things - to ban risky cladding".

Lord Porter, chair of the LGA, said that the Grenfell tragedy exposed a broken system for ensuring buildings' fire safety. "It needs a whole-system change".

But sources say that Dame Judith Hackitt, a former chairwoman of the Health and Safety Executive, is not expected to propose an outright prohibition on products similar to those which appeared to spread fire at Grenfell killing 72 people nearly a year ago.

However, he stressed that the immediate priority should be to ensure that the events of Grenfell are never repeated.

Campaigners branded it a "whitewash" after it failed to recommend either of the measures.

Dame Judith's refusal to call for a ban on combustible cladding and the desktop studies that are used to authorise cladding systems that have not been fire tested is being criticised.

James Brokenshire, recently appointed as housing secretary, said: "People must always feel safe in their own home". This is particularly important for Wandsworth, as we have two tower blocks - Sudbury House and Castlemaine - where essential cladding removal works are already well under way.

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