A review on building regulations after the Grenfell Tower tragedy has called for a “radical rethink” of the safety system but will not recommend an explicit ban on combustible cladding and insulation, despite demands from Grenfell Tower survivors backed by architects, building firms and fire safety experts.
In a government-commissioned report, led by Dame Judith Hackitt, the review has been looking into regulations around design, construction and management of buildings in relation to fire safety.
In her final report, Dame Judith – a senior engineer who used to chair the Health and Safety Executive – said her proposals would result in a new regulator to oversee the construction and management of buildings, starting with 2,000 to 3,000 “high risk” residential buildings with more than 10 stories.
The report strongly criticised the existing system, which Dame Judith said had resulted in a “prime motivation is to do things as quickly and cheaply as possible… A race to the bottom”.
But she did not call for a ban on materials capable of burning from tall buildings, saying: “This is most definitely not a question of the specification of cladding systems.
Seventy-one people died in the fire in Grenfell Tower last June and following the fire, cladding on hundreds of buildings failed safety tests.
Critics have shunned the move to not ban flammable cladding on high rise buildings, with many taking to social media to air their concerns.
One commentator tweeted: “Appalled by the decision to not ban cladding. Do people’s lives matter at all? Who benefits from this decision #GrenfellTower”
Another said: “Shocking #GrenfellTower report. No cladding ban? report is very, very weak. I think they forgot 71 people died as a result of this.”
According to BBC News, Dame Judith’s appointment to lead the review had been met with some criticism due to her former role as director of the Energy Saving Trust. The organisation promotes insulation containing a foam known as polyisocyanurate (PIR), blamed for fuelling the fire at Grenfell.
But the government said Dame Judith was “an independent and authoritative voice”.