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ARCH annual report

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The ARCH annual report for 2015-16 is now available to view.

 

Download it here.

Government consult on restricting or banning “desktop studies” 12/04/2018 Labelled as Development

Following the Grenfell fire, the Government have issued a consultation paper on restricting or banning the use of 'desktop studies' as a way of assessing the fire performance of external cladding systems.

 

The consultation follows recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt in her interim report from the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety published last year.

 

The consultation is seeking views on whether 'desktop studies' are appropriate for all construction products, wall systems (cladding) or for any other purpose and asks whether 'desktop studies' should be used at all.

 

If 'desktop studies' are deemed appropriate, the proposed changes include improving the transparency of assessments, enabling proper scrutiny of results and ensuring that the studies can only be carried out by properly accredited bodies that have the relevant expertise.

 

Assessment in lieu of tests, also known as 'desktop studies' are an established part of the system for classifying the fire performance of construction products and systems set out in current Building Regulations under paragraph 1b of Annex A of Approved Document B.

 

However, following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower and the subsequent failure of a number of cladding systems under large scale fire tests, ARCH does not believe that "desktop studies" should be used at all in assessing the fire safety of cladding systems. 

 

ARCH Chief Executive John Bibby comments:

 

"In considering whether "desktop studies" are sufficient to approve cladding materials and systems for use on high rise residential buildings we need to look at this from the point of view of the residents of high rise blocks (and future prospective tenants and buyers) who, following Grenfell, will rightly expect absolute assurances that their building is safe.  

 

Residents find it incredible that the systems of construction and building regulation in this country have failed them to the extent that hundreds of high rise buildings across the country, in different ownership and of different tenures, have been allowed to be fitted with cladding systems that have since been proven to have failed the large scale fire safety tests carried out following the Grenfell fire and ask the question: why weren't such tests carried out before the cladding systems were installed?.

 

Residents of older high rise blocks see the benefit of safe systems of cladding which improve the thermal value of high rise buildings and reduce often unaffordable heating bills. However residents also have a reasonable expectation that in future no cladding systems (of any type) should be installed on high rise buildings until and unless the particular cladding system proposed has been subject to the same large scale fire safety tests and is proven to be safe.

 

Following Grenfell I am doubtful that residents of older high rise buildings would be prepared to agree to proposals to install cladding systems on their blocks unless the type of cladding and the cladding system proposed has been subject to a large scale fire safety test and a full copy of the fire safety test has been made available for public inspection. Equally I can't see many buyers in the private housing market being prepared to buy an apartment in a high rise block unless they receive similar assurances that the cladding on their home (and their investment) is safe - I certainly wouldn't"

 

Further details of the consultation is available here and the deadline for consultation responses is 25 May 2018.

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