Here are the latest updates in the world of fire safety and the on-going roll out of recommendations from Dame Hackitt’s full report from May 2018:

October 2018:

Government releases funding to replace unsafe cladding – The government has released the first tranche of an estimated £400 million to remove and replace unsafe cladding on social sector high-rise housing.

The government has started distributing an estimated £400 million to remove and replace unsafe aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding systems on social sector high-rise housing in England owned by social landlords. Twelve local authorities and 31 housing associations are being told today (17 October 2018) that they have been allocated the money they need to cover the cost of removing and replacing unsafe ACM cladding from social, residential buildings they own which are 18 metres or higher.(Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, Oct 2018)

“In the private sector, I want to see landlords protect leaseholders from these costs. I am pleased that a number have stepped forward to do so, including Barratt Developments, Legal & General, Taylor Wimpey, Mace and Peabody. However, there are some who are not engaging in this process. If they don’t, I have ruled nothing out”. (Brokenshire 2018)

November 2018:

Government bans combustible cladding materials and allows local authorities to strip cladding materials from privately owned residential tower blocks – The UK government has banned combustible cladding on new high-rise residential buildings and given new powers to councils to rid private buildings of unsafe materials and recover the costs from landlords.

Housing secretary James Brokenshire made the announcement in Parliament on 29th November, when the regulations were laid to give legal effect to the ban made public earlier this year.

The use of combustible materials is now prohibited on the external walls of tower blocks taller than 18m, as well as new hospitals, residential care homes, dormitories in boarding schools and student accommodation over 18m.

Brokenshire also said he was acting to speed up the replacement of unsafe aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding on existing buildings, like that used on the Grenfell Tower. He pledged to give local authorities “full backing, including financial support if necessary” to removal ACM cladding from private buildings. They will be able to recover the costs from landlords, ensuring that buildings will be made permanently safe without delay.

A total of 159 social-sector residential tower blocks have been identified as using ACM cladding, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Cladding on 76% of these buildings has either been replaced (22 buildings) or is in the process of being removed (99), corrective action plans are in place for the remaining 38 buildings.

There are also 295 private-sector structures that are clad in ACM, including 205 residential blocks. Statistics show that replacement work has finished on just ten of these buildings and remediation work is underway on a further 26. The government is fully funding the replacement of unsafe ACM cladding on social sector buildings above 18m. (ioshMagazine, Jan 2019)

Building (Amendment) Regulations 2018: Circular 02/2018 – INTRODUCES NEW REQUIREMENTS FOR COMPLIANCE WITH REGULATION 7 OF THE BUILDING REGULATIONS 2010, INTRODUCES ADDITIONAL CATEGORY OF MATERIAL CHANGE
OF USE IN REGULATION 5 OF THE BUILDING REGULATIONS, 2010 AND REQUIREMENTS IN RESPECT OF THIS CATEGORY IN REGULATION 6 AND AMENDS APPROVED DOCUMENT B, VOLUME 2 AND APPROVED DOCUMENT

December 2018:

Amendments to Approved documents – amendments were made to approved document B (fire safety), relating to wall and ceiling linings, space separation and performance of materials, products and structures

January 2019:

Building owner describes government’s cladding removal plans as “hollow threat” – The owner of a private block with Grenfell-style cladding has slammed government plans to force building owners to pay for the work as a “hollow threat”, in emails seen by Inside Housing. (Inside Housing, Jan 2019)

William Procter, the director of Citistead Ltd which owns the freehold on the aluminium composite material (ACM)-clad Northpoint building in Bromley, south-east London, said in an email to residents it could not be forced to pay for remediation work, and that the responsibility for the costs was the government’s.

Mr Procter said the powers the government “claimed to have granted to local authorities” were not new and had existed for a number of years, and councils would be loathed to commit funds unless they were confident of repayment. Mr Procter, who is also the chief executive of Consensus Business Group which holds over 300,000 freeholds across the country, said he found it “not strange but bizarre” that the government would point the finger at freeholders rather than accept responsibility itself.(Inside Housing, Jan 2019)

I will keep you all updated with any further developments as they happen, have a great week.

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