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Grenfell | New tall building safety concerns raised

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Only eight out of 173 social housing tall buildings that are clad with some form of aluminium composite material (ACM) have passed combustibility tests, the government has said.

In addition, concerns have now been raised about the fire safety of high-rise residential buildings constructed with large concrete panel systems and also the robustness of some cladding systems in strong winds.

The concerns have been raised after fire safety investigations following the Grenfell Tower Fire.

The comments were made in an update to Parliament on the government’s response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy by communities secretary Sajid Javid.

He told Parliament that in England there are 173 social housing buildings that are over 18 metres tall and clad with some form of aluminium composite material, or ACM, but only eight have cladding systems that experts deem likely to meet building regulations. This means 165 towers have systems that failed.

The findings followed the Building Research Establishment’s large-scale fire safety tests on ACM cladding systems.

Javid said: “The owners of affected buildings have been given detailed advice drawn up by our independent expert advisory panel.

This covers steps to ensure the safety of residents including, where necessary, removal of cladding.

We have also been holding weekly update calls with local authorities, housing associations and other building owner groups.

We have today published further advice that brings together all the results and the views of the expert panel on the implications for building owners.”

Javid has said that structural engineers studying Southwark’s Ledbury Estate have said that strengthening work may be needed on blocks constructed using the concrete panel system that, in 1968, failed at Ronan Point.

The engineers have concerns about cracks that appeared cosmetic but could compromise fire-safety compartmentation. The government has asked the Standing Committee on Structural Safety to advise on any implications. It has also advised local authorities that own similar buildings to check that any strengthening work has been correctly undertaken.

Javid also said that following fire safety investigations in Glasgow, the British Board of Agrément has said some cladding systems may be designed and installed in such a way that they could fail in strong winds.

 

 

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