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Minister bans combustible cladding as councils given power over private blocks

The government has banned combustible materials from new high-rise blocks and given extra power to local authorities to force through work to replace unsafe cladding. 

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has said that under new regulations laid down in parliament, combustible materials will not be permitted on new buildings over 18 m containing flats. 

The new measures also cover hospitals, residential care homes, dormitories in boarding schools and student accommodation.

According to recent MHCLG statistics, as of 8 November only three private blocks had been re-clad out of 199 identified as having unsafe cladding.

The government has acted after warning owners of private blocks in recent months not to pass on the costs of re-cladding to leaseholders.

Housing secretary James 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.”

In a statement, the MHCLG added: “Local authorities will get the government’s full backing, including financial support if necessary, to enable them to carry out emergency work on affected private residential buildings with unsafe ACM cladding.

“They will recover the costs from building owners. This will allow buildings to be made permanently safe without delay.”

The MHCLG added that schools over 18 m built as part of the government’s centrally delivered build programmes will also not use combustible materials on external walls, in line with the terms of the ban.

Earlier this year Mr Brokenshire said that he wished to “learn and apply” the lessons from the Grenfell Tower fire last July.

The ban on combustible materials follows on from the report by Dame Hackitt, which called for a new regulatory system for fire safety, but stopped short of proposing an outright ban on the use of combustible cladding.

Last month Construction News revealed that re-cladding was yet to begin on a 95-home Barratt development in Croydon because the property manager was unwilling to start work until it received “absolute clarity” over what materials it could use.

Barratt, the original developer of Citiscape block, agreed to pay for the work nearly six months ago.

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