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Combustible cladding ban announced

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The government has announced a blanket ban on all combustible materials for buildings over 18m tall.

The use of combustible materials – such as the cladding used on Grenfell Tower – will also be banned in schools, care homes and hospitals.

The ban will apply to all new builds only. Communities secretary James Brokenshire said that the government does not hold the power to “retrospectively” enforce the removal of cladding from existing privately-owned buildings.

A government statement confirmed: “The ban will not apply retrospectively – we do not have legal powers to do that – but we are taking measures to remediate buildings which have the same cladding as that of Grenfell Tower, including fully funding the remediation of all high rise residential blocks in the social housing sector and running a campaign to encourage private owners to remediate their own and not pass on the costs to leaseholders.”

The ban will be implemented through changes to the Building Regulations, which will be brought forward in late autumn. The ban will limit materials to products in line with many other EU member states.

As part of the ongoing inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster, Arup fire engineer Barbara Lane concluded that combustible cladding provided “an easy route for fire to spread between flats”.

Several other expert witnesses at the inquiry have supported Lane’s findings, while a report by the Royal Institute of British Architects also called for a ban on all combustible materials.

Dame Judith Hackitt’s official review of the Grenfell disaster also received widespread criticism for failing to call for an outright ban on combustible materials.

Announcing the ban at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, Brokenshire said: “It’s been over a year since the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire.

“This unimaginable horror has rightly shocked us all and underlined the need to do all that we can to see that such a disaster cannot happen again.

“My work with [survivors and berieved relatives group] Grenfell United and the wider community has been hugely helpful in keeping this issue right at the top of the government’s agenda.

“And that is why I can confirm that I will change the building regulations to ban the use of combustible cladding for all high rise residential buildings, hospitals, care homes and student accommodation.

“And bring about a change in culture on building safety.”

Earlier this year, former London Fire Brigade City Father Stephen Lashmar claimed that a softening of fire and building regulations and best practices had led to a lowering of standards.

He said that the cladding used on Grenfell Tower would never have been allowed under previous laws.

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