Government endangering tower blocks by delaying fire safety regulations review

Government endangering tower blocks by delaying fire safety regulations review

Experts have warned that a government delay in reviewing building regulations could be endangering tower blocks throughout the UK.

Story credit: Inside Housing

Following a catastrophic tower block fire at Lakanal House in South London in 2009, which claimed six lives, fire safety failings were uncovered in the resulting investigation. These failings included inadequate fire risk assessments and panels on the exterior walls not providing the required fire resistance.

Southwark Council were recently fined £570,000 after pleading guilty to four criminal charges relating to lapses in fire safety. 

Housing Minister Gavin Barwell said last year that the government will review part B of the Building Regulations 2010, which relate to fire safety, in the aftermath of the fire at Lakanal House. 

Honorary administrative secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group, Ronnie King, said the building regulations 'haven't taken account of the Lakanal House fire inquest, or updated recent accredited research'.

There are still 4,000 tower blocks within the UK which have the same regulations applied to them. 

King added: 'The message to other social landlords and housing providers is unless there is a review the regulations you could face multi-million pound legal costs and compensation should you experience a Lakanal House tragedy.'

Sam Webb, fire safety expert, said 'really serious questions' should be asked in parliament about fire safety, and that there is a 'conflict' between fire safety and the materials that are used to construct more energy efficient buildings.

He said: 'The materials are not fire-resistant and in some cases they're flammable.'

A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government declined to give a date for the building regulations review, adding that it will place 'in due course'.