Along with the Construction Products Association, the Construction Industry Council and Build UK, the TTA sits on the Industry Response Group, set up by the Government after the Grenfell Tower Disaster.
Following the publication of the Hackitt Report in June, Suzannah Nichol MBE, Chief Executive of Build UK said: “It is not surprising to see that Dame Judith Hackitt is proposing radical change in how high rise residential buildings are designed, constructed and maintained. Containing a substantial number of recommendations, including new legislation, it is now up to the industry to adopt a much more rigorous approach to ensuring that designs, materials, systems and buildings are fit for purpose and that everyone is clear who is accountable at each stage of the process.”
Now the Government has announced a ban on the use of combustible materials on the external walls of high-rise residential buildings.
If they are over 18m in height, they will now not be able to use this type of cladding. The government also believes the cladding on Grenfell Tower was unlawful under existing building regulations and should not have been used.
There is now a consultation in place, which is required prior to any substantive changes to building regulations. This consultation runs until 14 August.
The Secretary of State for Housing, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, says: “The Grenfell Tower fire was an appalling tragedy and we must do everything we can to ensure a disaster like this never happens again.
“I have listened carefully to concerns and I intend to ban the use of combustible materials on the external walls of high-rise residential buildings, subject to consultation.
“The cladding believed to have been used on Grenfell Tower was unlawful under existing building regulations. It should not have been used. But I believe that the changes on which we are consulting will offer even greater certainty to concerned residents and to the construction industry.”
Meanwhile the Chartered Association of Building Engineers recently hosted an event which considered the state of building regulations more generally. The keynote speaker was Neil Cooper of MLM Group, which is a leading multidisciplinary design, compliance and specialist practice. Mr Cooper is also chair of BRAC, The Building Regulations Advisory Committee.
He raised the point that while there was broad agreement with the findings and direction of travel of the Hackitt Report, workstreams will need to be prioritised and this could take years. At the same time, while focussed risk management is starting to happen as part of a cultural change that ensures we have clear accountability, risk management will require legislation. It isn’t something the industry can, or should be responsible for managing themselves.
One area that raised concern, according to Cooper, was the report’s recommendations of a new regulatory system for tower blocks. Whilst change is needed, the concern is that the industry ends up with a system that is even more complex than the current one and that clarity is lost. If this new regulatory system is to work it needs to be managed centrally by government and be much more collaborative in its approach.
It is clear Hackitt has been a turning point but there is much to do and as an industry, it falls on every organisation to play its part to ensure change happens. According to Cooper, competence, a cultural change and accountability are the industry’s responsibility but we can’t do it on our own, this change has to involve government leadership and it has to be clear, concise and collaborative.