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Government announces fire safety and building regs review

The government has announced plans for an independent review of Building Regulations and fire safety in the aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy last month.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) revealed that an independent review led by the former chair of the Manufacturers’ Organisation Dame Judith Hackitt will look at current Building Regulations.

The review will report to both the communities secretary Sajid Javid and the home secretary Amber Rudd.

It will scrutinise fire safety in high-rise buildings, particularly the safety of cladding after a series of questions were raised over the use of aluminium composite material (ACM) panels in towers similar to Grenfell.

The announcement comes as further large-scale “whole system” tests, including mock-ups of facades up to 9 m high, found several safety issues.

Six test specimens of three common types of ACM panel failed safety tests conducted by the Buildings Research Establishment, which reported its findings last week.

The tests found that the type of cladding used in 82 tower blocks failed safety tests. Of those, 47 were owned or operated by local authorities or housing associations.

According to the DCLG, the first system tested – a wall cladding system using ACM cladding with unmodified polyethylene filler (cat 3) and foam insulation – failed the test set out in current Building Regulations guidance.

Communities secretary Sajid Javid said: “Since the tragic Grenfell Tower disaster, the government has been working to make sure people living in high-rise buildings are safe.

“It’s clear we need to urgently look at Building Regulations and fire safety. 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.”

Last week the Matropolitan Police announced that it believed there were “reasonable grounds” to suspect that both the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation could face charges of corporate manslaughter over the fire, which broke out on 14 June and killed at least 80 people.

The police enquiry has identified up to 60 separate companies and organisations which played a role in the refurbishment or management of the tower. 

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