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17 May 2018

CHC responds to Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety

The UK Government has released Dame Judith Hackitt's final Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.

The report, released eleven months after the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower suggests a series of recommendations on improving systems to ensure the safety of tenants in high rise buildings. The report focusses on the processes and systems involved in the oversight of the construction, renovation and management of high rise buildings, and is not prescriptive over over the types of materials used in this process. However, we believe that where materials or practices in the cladding and insulating of buildings above 18m in height are unsafe, their further use should be urgently prohibited.

We welcome the recommendations to identify and ensure the competance of dutyholders in assessing the fire risk of buildings.

These measures, if implemented, will ensure that tenants and enforcing bodies have a clear understanding of who is responsible for the fire safety of a building and re-establish confidence that fire risk assessments are being undertaken thoroughly. It will also mean recommendations arising are addressed in a timely manner.

The report recommends the establishment of a single Joint Competent Authority (JCA) bringing together Fire & Rescue Services, Local Authorities and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to provide oversight of buildings of ten storeys or more. If implemented by UK Government, we will work with Welsh and UK Governments to ensure that the JCA is fit for purpose across the UK, given the devolved status of fire & rescue and building standards but reserved status of the HSE.

Stuart Ropke, Chief Executive of Community Housing Cymru said:

“Tenant safety is paramount and the publication of today’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety provides a solid framework for housing associations and Welsh Government to continue working together to improve safety for people living in high rise buildings in Wales. We agree it’s vital the construction industry, building owners and managers are held accountable for ensuring that buildings are safe.

“We support the review’s focus on improving the overall systems for ensuring safety in high rise buildings in the long term. However, as a priority we believe where cladding, insulation or practices are shown to be unsafe on buildings above 18m their further use should be prohibited.”