The chair of the inquiry into the government-backed building regulation’s review has said fundamental reform is required to rebuild trust in high rise buildings following the Grenfell Tower disaster, however it has stopped short of recommending a ban on flammable cladding.
At the heart of the reform Dame Hackitt said the construction industry would be required to take responsibility for the delivery of safe buildings.
The announcement was made at the publication of the independent Hackitt review into building regulations and fire safety in the wake of the horrific fire in the Grenfell tower which killed 71 people last year. The review was prompted after testing of building materials used in the tower revealed “systemic failures”.
“This is a systemic problem,” she said. “The current system is far too complex, it lacks clarity as to who is responsible for what, and there is inadequate regulatory oversight and enforcement. Simply adding more prescription or making amendments to the current system, such as restricting or prohibiting certain practices, will not address the root causes.
“The recommendations in this report will lead to a clearer, simpler but more robust approach to the building and on going management of high rise residential buildings.”
The review didn’t ban combustible cladding, which some experts believe contributed to the rapid spread of the fire.
Hackitt said banning cladding won’t solve the problem. She said: “It is a broken system and banning cladding on its own won’t fix it.” However she didn’t rule out recommendation to ban combustible cladding at a later date.
Building on her interim report, which found the current system of building and fire safety was not fit for purpose, the new report has found that a new regulatory framework for higher-risk residential buildings is required to improve building and resident safety.
The new report sets out an “ambitious” vision for a new framework which it said would improve standards for both new and existing buildings.
The recommendations made relate to:
- A less prescriptive, outcomes-based approach to the regulatory framework to be overseen by a new regulator that can drive the right behaviours;
- Clearer roles and responsibilities throughout the design and construction process and during occupation, to ensure real accountability for building safety;
- Residents to be consulted and involved in decisions affecting the safety of their home and listened to if they have concerns;
- A more rigorous and transparent product testing regime and a more responsible marketing regime;
- Industry to lead on strengthening competence of all those involved in building work and to establish an oversight body;
- The chair is now calling on the government to set out a clear plan for implementation and for industry and regulators to start ‘living’ the changes now.
David Lammy MP, who had a friend who died in the fire, has described the review as a “betrayal and a whitewash”.
He said: “It is unthinkable and unacceptable that so many people can die in a disaster like Grenfell and one year on flammable cladding has not been banned.”
More to follow…