Government announces review of building regulations after Grenfell Tower fire as 82 towers found to have cladding which fails fire test

Jasper Jolly
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The rapid spread of the fire at Grenfell Tower was blamed on cladding which had been added recently (Source: Getty)

The government has announced an independent review of building regulations and fire safety in response to the Grenfell Tower disaster which saw at least 80 people die.

The announcement accompanied the release of flammability tests on panels used on at least 82 towers around Britain. Some 47 of the towers are owned by local authorities or housing associations.

The specific combination tested, the first of a series of investigations, found the aluminium composite material with polyethylene filler (Category 3) and foam insulation failed to comply with building regulations.

The review, which will be led by Dame Judith Hackitt, chair of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, will focus particularly on fire safety in high-rise residential buildings.

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.

Hackitt, a chemical engineer by training and a former chair of the Health and Safety Executive, said the review will look at "what changes can be made for the future" to fire regulations.

The terms of reference for the review will be published this summer, after the terms of reference for the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry have been agreed, the Department for Communities and Local Government said.

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Hackitt will present an interim report before the end of the year, and a final report by the end of spring next year.

The government also said housing associations and local authorities will be forced to "draw on their existing resources" to pay for any necessary modifications in light of the review, rather than receiving new funds from government.

However, restrictions on financial resources will be relaxed if necessary for the 16 councils which currently have buildings with aluminium-composite cladding.

Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “It is clear that the tragedy at Grenfell Tower has exposed a systemic failure of the current system of building regulation. With test fails on buildings owned by a range of landlords across the country, we are pleased the government has accepted our call to begin an urgent and immediate review of building regulations. Local government must play a central role in this review from the outset.

“We also continue to call on the Building Research Establishment and the industry to release results of previous safety tests, including desktop studies. Everything must be out in the open and this needs to happen as soon as possible.”

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