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Government bans combustibles and gives councils power to strip cladding

3080738 grenfell tower fire exterior cladding jc8t6m 2

The government has announced details of its ban on combustible materials and handed local authorities the power to strip deadly cladding from high rise buildings

Housing secretary James Brokenshire announced today (29 November) that under new legislation, combustible materials will not be permitted in the external walls of new buildings over 18m tall and containing housing. 

The Ministry of Housing confirmed the ban would also apply to new hospitals, residential care premises, dormitories in boarding schools and student accommodation over 18m tall. The new regulations will limit the use of materials in the external walls to products achieving a European fire-resistance classification of Class A1 or A2.

The ban, which only applies to new buildings, will come into effect on 21 December.

The government has also gone some way to clearing up confusion over which parts of the buildings the ban will apply to, and in particular, what it means by ‘external wall’. 

In the amended legislation, external wall is defined as anything ‘located within any space forming part of the wall’ and any decoration or finishes applied to external surfaces.

It also comprises windows or doors, roofs pitched at an angle of more than 70 degrees as well as balconies, devices for deflecting sunlight and solar panels. 

The AJ understands this definition is likely to have implications for timber-frame high-rises and architects and developers using the cross-laminated timber (CLT) construction method.

The government’s impact assessment of the policy points out it ’prohibits the use of timber materials in the external wall of buildings within the scope’.

The document adds: ‘It [the ban] is therefore likely to slow down the use of engineered timber in future development in the medium to long term.’

Brokenshire also announced that local authorities would get the full backing of the government, including financial support, to remove combustible cladding from privately owned high-rise blocks. 

The ban comes after months of warnings issued to building owners not to pass on costs of removing unsafe cladding to leaseholders. 

The government is already fully funding the replacement of unsafe ACM cladding on publicly owned blocks above 18m. 

Brokenshire said: ‘Everyone has a right to feel safe in their homes and I have repeatedly made clear that building owners and developers must replace dangerous ACM cladding. And the costs must not be passed on to leaseholders.

’My message is clear: private building owners must pay for this work now or they should expect to pay more later.’



Readers' comments (2)

  • Geoff Williams

    This is indeed an interesting move that should have been introduced from the outset in the design of high rise structures. Bearing in mind that 40% of fires Worldwide are caused by electrical cable malfunction it is imperative that the electrical cable is also taken into account. Cables are taken the length and breadth of every building and cables have been frequently known to assist in the spread of fire in highrise buildings. Most electrical cables will burn and emit smoke and toxic fumes.

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  • 1. How about existing high-rise blocks, built in the 70-ties, 80-ties etc.
    2. Who will pay for the removal of such cladding materials if the building is owned by a local authority? Leaseholders?

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