‘Hundreds’ of high rises still have dangerous cladding

‘Hundreds’ of high rises still have dangerous cladding

THE LATEST government statistics on high rise buildings clad with material that is ‘unlikely’ to meet building regulations found that 361 still have aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding.

Property Wire reported that the data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has shown that hundreds of high rise blocks still have ACM cladding systems that are ‘unlikely to meet building regulations’, and these buildings include council and privately owned high rise residential buildings, student accommodation, hotels, a school and healthcare buildings.

In total, 361 high rise residential and public buildings still have ACM systems in place, despite the combustible materials ban announced last November, which was implemented via the Building (Amendment) Regulations 2018 and which came into force on 21 December 2018 with a two month transitional period. The ban however does not apply to existing buildings ‘where no building work is being carried out’.

In those cases the buildings are ‘part of a case by case risk based approach to fire safety’, which is said to be the ‘most appropriate’ in line with advice already issued by MHCLG and the government’s expert panel. A series of councils including Greenwich, Salford and Tower Hamlets have over 20 buildings where ACM cladding systems ‘are unlikely’ to meet building regulations, while Brent, Manchester, Newham, Wandsworth and Westminster ‘have between’ 11 and 20 such buildings.

Of the buildings requiring work, 119 are social sector residential buildings managed by local authorities or housing associations, while 233 are private sector buildings and nine are publicly owned. In the social sector, 79 buildings have begun remediation works, 39 have a remediations plan in place ‘but remediation has not started’, and one is developing plans with the intent to carry out remediation works.

In the private sector, of the 233 buildings listed 167 are private residential blocks, while 36 are student accommodation blocks and 30 are hotels. Of the 167, 19 have begun remediation, 127 have a plan in place but works have not started, and 37 buildings’ owners ‘intend to remediate and are developing plans’.

However, remediation plans ‘remain unclear’ for 50 buildings, which has fallen from over 200 in June 2018, while 13 private sector building’s cladding status ‘is still to be confirmed’, though again this has fallen from around 170 in June last year. There are also 73 high rise residential and public buildings that have finished removal works, an increase of six since December 2018.

Work to remove ACM has been completed on 40 social sector residential buildings and 33 private sector buildings, with seven of the latter private residential and 26 student accommodation. MHCLG pointed out that the work to remove and replace cladding is ‘a complex process and involves addressing any issues with the exterior cladding system and broader fire safety systems’ for each building.

MHCLG also noted that the work ‘takes time’ and ‘varies considerably depending on the building structure, extent of cladding, and existing fire safety systems’, which for many buildings is ‘complex’ and involves ‘major construction work’ that needs to be ‘planned, consulted on an carried out carefully’.