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Views sought on changes to building regs guidance

Grenfell Tower

Post-Grenfell calls for better building regulations guidance has prompted a consultation on ways to improve Approved Document B (ADB), the government’s own advice on how to comply with building regulations.

Housing secretary James Brokenshire announced the consultation on changes to ADB as he revealed a full technical review of the document will take place in the autumn.

Brokenshire added that Kier and Wilmott Dixon are among firms who have signed up to trial safety measures recommended by Dame Judith Hackitt in her building regulations review.

Changes to ADB include simplifying the language, including colour-coding sentences, and information on restricting desktop studies (fire safety tests carried out on a computer).

After the Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June last year, experts called for an overhaul of ADB as the current guidance is too ambiguous. The document has not been changed significantly since 2006, although it was updated in 2010 and 2013.

Brokenshire revealed Hackitt is going to chair an Industry Safety Steering Group, which will work on improving safety standards in the construction industry and making it easier to hold people to account.

Brokenshire said: “Dame Judith’s report sets out the right framework to improve safety but I will not hesitate to go further than the recommendations where I deem it necessary.

“That is why I am going further than my original commitment to simply clarify the guidelines, by commencing an end-to-end technical review of the fire safety aspects of building regulations in the autumn.

A consultation on banning the use of desktop studies has already closed, while a consultation on banning the use of combustible cladding on high-rise residential buildings is ongoing.

Details on setting up the Joint Competent Authority recommended by Hackitt, which would oversee safety in the construction industry, will be revealed in the autumn.

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