Building regulations review announced

Building regulations review announced

THE GOVERNMENT has commissioned an independent review into building regulations and fire safety after the Grenfell Tower fire.

The Construction Index reported on the government’s decision to commission the review, which will be led by former Health and Safety Executive (HSE) chair Dame Judith Hackitt. The review was announced as a response to the Grenfell Tower fire, and will ‘look at current building regulations and fire safety with a particular focus on high rise residential buildings’.

Its findings and investigations will be reported jointly to both Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, with Dame Hackitt a chemical engineer who was previously president of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, and currently chair of the Engineering Employers Foundation (EEF).

The review follows both the fire at Grenfell Tower, in which 80 people died, and the ‘serious questions about the fire safety of high rise residential buildings’ asked afterward, which initially and specifically saw the government launch a test programme of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding ‘from similar buildings across the country, revealing them to be not fit for purpose’.

According to the news site, the first system tested featured a wall cladding system with ACM, an ‘unmodified polyethylene filler’ and foam insulation, which ‘failed the test set out in current building regulations guidance’. Dame Hackitt’s review will examine a wide range of issues corresponding to the regulations, including the ‘regulatory system around the design, construction and on-going management of buildings in relation to fire safety’.

It will also look at ‘related compliance and enforcement issues’ as well as ‘international regulation and experience in this area’. The report’s terms of reference will be published in summer 2017 ‘once the terms of reference for the Grenfell Tower public inquiry have been agreed’, and an interim report is expected ‘before the end of the year’.

Following that, a final report will be published ‘no later than’ spring 2018, and the government has said it will ‘act swiftly on any recommendations from this review to make sure people living in high rise buildings are safe’. The department for communities and local government stated in its announcement that ‘immediate action is already underway to ensure the safety of residents in these buildings. But the results also make clear that we need to understand how current building regulations and fire safety works in order to make them as effective as possible in the future’.

Mr Javid commented: ‘Since the tragic Grenfell Tower disaster, the government has been working to make sure people living in high rise buildings are safe. It’s clear we need to urgently look at building regulations and fire safety. This independent review will ensure we can swiftly make any necessary improvements. Government is determined to make sure that we learn the lessons from the Grenfell Tower fire, and to ensure nothing like it can happen again.’

Dame Hackitt added: ‘I am honoured to be asked by government to lead this important independent review. This review will look at building regulations and fire safety to see what changes can be made for the future to make these more effective. I am keen to engage widely with industry and the public to inform the recommendations from the review. I want the recommendations to lead to any necessary improvements in the system being made.’