Nearly 25,000 homes still clad in ACM
ACCORDING TO the government’s latest update on the removal of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding, almost 25,000 properties within high rises still have the combustible cladding.
Building reported on the Home Office update, which stated that 324 buildings, including 98 high rise social housing blocks and 168 privately owned blocks, still had ACM cladding The report commented that ‘yet to be remediated social sector residential buildings account for approximately 7,600 dwellings’, while ‘yet to be remediated private sector residential buildings account for approximately 13,400 to 17,200 dwellings’.
This means, the news outlet added, that ‘up to 24,800’ homes across England still have ACM cladding, over two years since the Grenfell Tower fire. Of the 98 social housing blocks, 81 have seen work begin, 16 have a replacement plan ‘but no work has taken place’, and in the one other case the building’s owners ‘have stated their intention to deal with the issue’.
Of the privately owned buildings meanwhile, 24 towers’ owners have said work has begun, while ‘plans are in place’ with no work begun on 76 buildings and 46 buildings’ owners ‘have reported an intent to carry out work and are drawing up plans’. For the remaining 22 towers however, the plan for remediation works to remove and replace the cladding ‘is unclear’.
In the 14 months since July 2018, 181 privately owned high rise buildings were found to have ACM cladding, with work completed ‘on just 13’, while in the social sector work has been finished on 60 of the 158 buildings with ACM. In further detail, the report noted that 33 of the 56 high rise student accommodation buildings found to have ACM cladding have seen work completed, while six others have seen work begin and a ‘plan is in place’ for 11 more.
Another two building owners of affected student blocks have ‘reported an intent to remediate and are developing plans’, but the status of any plans for the remaining four towers ‘is unclear’. On hotels, only two of the 30 high rise buildings found to have ACM cladding have seen work completed, with 10 having started work, and plans for eight more ‘are unclear’, with an extra building identified since the last government update.
Finally, 10 publicly owned schools and health buildings have ACM cladding, with work completed on three and started on one other. Earlier this week, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said that the government would ‘name and shame’ owners that do not replace combustible cladding, and that these owners would face ‘consequences’. He announced last week proposals that ‘would ensure more sprinklers in new high-rise blocks of flats’, an ‘important step forward in the government’s commitment to ensuring residents are safe in their homes’.
The main element of the consultation – running until 28 November - is to reduce the building height ‘for when sprinklers are required’ from 30m and above to 18m ‘or other relevant thresholds’, while a new protection board is being set up ‘immediately’ between the Home Office and National Fire Chiefs Council to ‘provide further reassurance to residents of high-risk residential blocks that any risks are identified and acted upon’.
The board will ‘ensure building owners are acting on the latest safety advice’, keep residents updated and that interim measures ‘are in place’ for all buildings clad with combustible ACM cladding. Its work will be informed by data collection work by local authorities to identify cladding types, and funded by another government contribution of £4m. From 12 September the application process for the £200m fund for removing ACM from privately owned buildings was opened ‘to accelerate the pace’ of removal and replacement.
He stated: ‘Let me be clear, inaction will have consequences and I will name and shame those who do not act during the course of the autumn. There is no excuse for further delay – and for building owners to fail to take action now would be frankly disgraceful. Our proposals are an important step forward in shaping the future building safety standards. The new Protection Board will make sure building owners don’t flout the rules, as well as ensuring fire safety risks in other buildings are being addressed.’