Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced new measures
which go faster and further to improve building safety.
The new measures were announced on 20 January 2020 in Parliament
including, amongst other measures, the immediate establishment of a
new Building Safety Regulator in the Health and Safety Executive
The announcement came alongside publication of the Government's response to Phase 1 Report of the
Grenfell Public Inquiry and immediately prior to the re-opening
of Phase 2 of the Grenfell Public Inquiry.
The new measures announced by the Secretary of State
1. A move to immediately introduce the new
building safety regulatory regime. Establishing the new Building
Safety Regulator immediately, initially in shadow form pending
legislation. This new Regulator will be established within the
Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Dame Judith Hackitt will
chair a Board to oversee transition to the new regime.
2. The lowering of the height threshold
for sprinkler requirements in new buildings. It will set
out detailed proposals for this and how it will
deliver the technical review of fire guidance in
3. A consultation on the ban on the use
of combustible materials, including proposals to lower the 18m
height threshold to at least 11m.
4. Publication of a revised, consolidated advice note on the
steps building owners should be taking to address a range of
safety risks. This brings together and updates 22
previous separate advice notes. In particular it clarifies
- more action is needed to review these risks in all
purpose-built flats and multi-occupied buildings below
- ACM cladding with an unmodified polyethylene core should not be
used on buildings at any height. This reflects the
evidence from the materials research programme.
- Actions building owners should take in relation to fire doors
in purpose-built blocks of flats.
- The updated guidance seems to fall short of the recommendation
of the Grenfell Inquiry Phase 1 report that fire doors should be
inspected on a quarterly basis.
- The updated guidance from the Expert Panel merely says that all
fire doors, including the closers, should be routinely maintained
by a suitably qualified professional; and that residents should be
made aware of the significant importance of a working self-closing
device on all fire doors.
- The updated guidance also stresses that building owners should
aim to replace existing timber flat entrance doorsets if they
suspect they do not meet the fire or smoke resistance performance
contained in the Local Government Association guide "Fire Safety in
Purpose Built Blocks of Flats"
5. Publication of a call for
evidence seeking views on the assessment and prioritisation
of fire risks associated with external wall systems, such
as cladding, within existing buildings. So far
Government have relied on crude height limits with binary
consequences and the plan is to gather ideas
before commissioning work from leading experts to develop a
more sophisticated matrix of risk factors which will then underpin
the future approach.
This announcement will have implications for
social housing landlords who should carefully consider the revised
and updated guidance issued by the Expert Panel.
We have met with officials from the Ministry
of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) to discuss
the announcement and the proposals contained in it and will be
drafting an ARCH response to the consultation and the call for
evidence. If your council has any views and comments on the
proposals, we would like to hear from you. Please contact ARCH
Chief Executive John Bibby (firstname.lastname@example.org).