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Combustable material to be banned from the outside of buildings

Move comes in the wake of the Grenfell disaster.

Date published

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire has announced that the government will ban flammable materials on the outside of new buildings. 

Brokenshire announced the ban at the Conservative Party conference. He said the government would ban the use of combustible materials on the outside of schools, hospitals, care homes, student accommodation and high-rise residential buildings over 18 metres. It will apply to cladding and to insulation materials.

The announcement comes 15 months after the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people in Notting Dale, West London, on 14 June 2017.

The ban on combustable materials on the outside of buildings will apply to high-rise buildings currently being built, as well as those built in the future. It will not apply to buildings that have already been constructed. 

Nearly 500 high-rise blocks across England have been found to be clad with aluminium composite material, the type of cladding used on the Grenfell Tower.

Announcement triggers criticism from safety bodies

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) have already said the proposed ban does not go far enough.

Richard Jones, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at IOSH, said: “In cities and towns across the UK, many people live and also work in high-rise buildings. They all need to be protected. 

"Therefore, the ban should cover all high-rise buildings, existing and new, and both residential and non-residential.”

The government has set up a £400m fund for remedial works to council buildings and is and putting pressure on private owners to remove dangerous cladding. 

The General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, Matt Wrack, said: “This announcement is designed for political convenience, not for thoroughgoing change. 

"The failings in the fire safety regime are far wider than just the materials used. The whole deregulated system and weak guidance needs to be overhauled."

The proposed change, which will be implemented via a change to the Building Regulations, will permit the use of materials which are categorised "Class A1" and "Class A2". Class A1 products include most inorganic materials such as metal, stone, and glass. Materials. Class A2 materials include plasterboard.