Government announces ban on all exterior cladding
The secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, James Brokenshire has, this week, announced a ban on the type of cladding panels and insulation that was used on the Grenfell Tower; a move that has been welcomed by survivors and experts.
Under new Building Regulations rules, plastics, wood and products that include combustible materials will be banned on the external walls of any building more than 18 metres high. Metal, stone, plasterboard and glass will still be allowed as a cladding material as these have been found to rarely be involved in the spread of fire.
The announcement comes in the same week as survivors of the fire are due to give evidence and as 265 witness statements have been given to the inquiry into the fire. One survivor, Ahmed Elgwahry was quoted in the Guardian newspaper as saying that the ban will save lives and that other families living in similar buildings will be able to rest easy.
A government source has stated that the new rules will be extended to hospitals, schools and care homes and could affect the construction of more than 1000 buildings each year - adding £10m in overall costs.
The government has identified around 468 buildings that current use cladding materials that have failed combustibility tests and has made £400m available to help local authorities and building owners to make the necessary changes to improve safety on these buildings. The new ban will not be retrospective however and will only apply to new builds or where cladding is added to an existing building.
Fire safety expert Arnold Tarling has stated that he welcomes the move as it takes the industry back to the standards first set in 1935 under the London Building Act. However, he questions what the government is going to do about the buildings that have already been built.