New building safety measures announced

The building height at which sprinklers are required and combustible materials are banned is set to be lowered, the Government has announced.

The move is part of a package of measures to improve building safety announced by Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick MP ahead of the start of phase two of the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry last month.

The measures include a new regulator established as part of the Health and Safety Executive, and government support to help councils develop ways of enforcing remediation works where building owners have not set out clear plans for removing dangerous cladding.

The Government is also consulting on lowering the combustible materials ban threshold from 18 metres to 11 metres, lowering the height at which sprinklers are required in new buildings, and has issued a call for evidence on other risk factors.

Lord Porter, the LGA’s Building Safety Spokesman, said: “It is good that the Government is looking at lowering the height requirement at which combustible cladding is banned on new buildings and accepted our call to ensure that building safety reforms protect residents in all vulnerable buildings, such as hospitals, residential schools and care homes.

“The height of a building does not provide any indication about the risk to its safety, as has been proven by recent dangerous fires in buildings below 18 metres.

“Height alone should not determine whether sprinklers should be fitted, as some buildings, such as care homes, house particularly vulnerable people. We urge the Government to make this change as quickly as possible and fund the retrofitting of sprinklers using a risk-based approach.”

The LGA is also calling for funding to support the removal of other dangerous cladding systems, and for councils and fire and rescue services to be given a leading role in ensuring any new building safety system works.

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