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Wales’s new combustible cladding ban should ‘go further’ say architects

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The Royal Society of Welsh Architects (RSAW) has called for the new ban on combustible cladding to ‘go further’ and apply to all buildings above 11m

Earlier this week, Welsh Assembly housing minister Julie James confirmed that from January 2020 combustibles will be banned from the exterior walls of all new residential buildings in Wales over 18m tall.

The ban applies to flats, student accommodation and care homes, as well as hospitals and is being introduced in the wake of the Grenfell fire which killed 72 people in 2017. 

It covers the complete wall assembly and certain attachments to the external wall, including balconies and solar panels.

But the RSAW said that following serious fires in England the government should consider a ‘lower height threshold’ of 11 metres for the ban.

RSAW president Ryan Stuckey said: ‘Wales has led the way in fire-safety building regulations with requirements for sprinklers, and should continue to show leadership in relation to combustible materials.’

His view was echoed by the Fire Brigade Union (FBU), which said it was not the ‘outright ban’ on combustible cladding it had been calling for.

Union general secretary Matt Wrack said: ‘The measures should apply to all buildings – not just those over 18m high, and include a ban on the use of A2 materials [items described as having ’limited combustibility’].

’The FBU has called for a universal ban on these flammable materials.’

James said: ‘Our homes should be the safest of places. The action I have taken today will help ensure we make people safer in their homes and leaves no room for doubt as to what is suitable for use on external walls of relevant buildings 18m or more in height.

‘We know there is still much more we need to do to ensure that there is greater clarity across the life cycle of a building as to the roles and responsibilities of those designing, constructing and managing buildings. I intend to publish a White Paper in 2020 setting out the detail of my plans’. 

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