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RIBA slams Grenfell inquiry for not covering procurement or wider Building Regs

Grenfell tower fire crop
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RIBA president Jane Duncan has criticised the Grenfell Tower Inquiry terms of reference for not examining the ‘overall regulatory and procurement context’ for the UK construction industry 

The full scope of the inquiry, which is being led by retired judge Martin Moore-Bick, was published earlier this week and approved by prime minister Theresa May.

The inquiry will examine the design and construction of Grenfell Tower, including its refurbishment, and look at the scope and adequacy of Building Regulations including its guidance on fire safety.

Responding to the terms of reference, Duncan said the institute was generally ‘supportive of the aims’ of the inquiry however she was critical of the way Moore-Bick’s remit fell short of examining the wider construction industry and, in particular, the existing procurement landscape. 

‘It is disappointing … that the terms of the inquiry do not explicitly mention the overall regulatory and procurement context for the construction of buildings in the UK,’ she said. ‘We consider this examination crucial to understanding the often complicated division of design responsibilities and the limited level of independent oversight of construction.’

‘These pervade many current building procurement approaches prevalent in the public and housing association sectors. Such regulatory and procurement concerns should not be dismissed as they would have helped set the full context for the decisions that were made at Grenfell Tower and at other residential buildings.

‘This is the missing piece of the puzzle and we will continue to make this case over the course of the inquiry, and to UK government and others.’ 

The terms of reference include examining the exact cause or causes of the Grenfell Tower fire and the means by which it engulfed the whole building.

According to the inquiry website, a preliminary report will be published ‘as soon as possible’, followed by a full report which will ’take a while longer’ to be published. 

Last month, the RIBA made a written submission to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, during the consultation period for its terms of reference.

It said the inquiry should cover the ‘broadest possible remit’ in examining the ‘overall regulatory and procurement context for construction of buildings in the United Kingdom’. 

Grenfell Tower public inquiry terms of reference in full

  • The immediate cause or causes of the fire and the means by which it spread to the whole of the building.
  • The design and construction of the building and the decisions relating to its modification, refurbishment and management.
  • The scope and adequacy of Building Regulations, fire regulations and other legislation, guidance and industry practice relating to the design, construction, equipping and management of high-rise residential buildings.
  • Whether such regulations, legislation, guidance and industry practice were complied with in the case of Grenfell Tower and the fire safety measures adopted in relation to it.
  • The arrangements made by the local authority or other responsible bodies for receiving and acting upon information either obtained from local residents or available from other sources (including information derived from fires in other buildings) relating to the risk of fire at Grenfell Tower, and the action taken in response to such information.
  • The fire prevention and fire safety measures in place at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017.
  • The response of the London Fire Brigade to the fire.
  • The response of central and local government in the days immediately following the fire.

 

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