1 August 2017 | Deborah Shrewsbury
An independent review of building regulations and fire safety is to be carried out and a final report published "no later than next spring", says the government.
This follows the fatal fire at Grenfell Tower that raised serious questions about the fire safety of high-rise residential buildings, and subsequent government testing of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding from similar buildings across the country.
The first result from large-scale tests of cladding systems has also been published. These tests simulated a tall building to allow experts to understand better how different types of cladding panels behave with different types of insulation in a fire.
The first system tested, a wall-cladding system using an aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding with unmodified polyethylene filler (Cat 3) and foam insulation, failed the test set out in current building regulations guidance.
Action is under way to ensure the safety of residents in these buildings. But the results also make clear that there should be a better understanding of how current building regulations and fire safety work in order to make them as effective as possible.
The "forward-looking" independent review, to be led by Dame Judith Hackitt, chair of EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, will look at building regulations and fire safety with a particular focus on high-rise residential blocks. It will report to both communities secretary Sajid Javid and home secretary Amber Rudd.
It will examine:
- the regulatory system around the design, construction and continuing management of buildings in relation to fire safety;
- related compliance and enforcement issues; and
- international regulation and experience in this area.
Javid said: "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 Judith will consult the Buildings Regulations Advisory Committee, which advises the government on changes to building regulations, as well as the construction and housing industry, the fire sector, international experts, MPs and the public.
The review will also work closely with other government departments and the devolved administrations and consider the implications of changes to the regulatory system on other government objectives.
Dame Judith said: "I want the recommendations to lead to any necessary improvements in the system being made."
Terms of reference for the review will be published this summer, 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, with a final report published by spring 2018.