Grenfell Tower cladding to be banned from all projects

Cladding of the type used on Grenfell Tower is to be banned from use on any building in England.

Ministers have announced plans to outlaw the use of metal composite material panels with an unmodified polyethylene core (MCM PE) as part of an overhaul of building regulations and guidance, which will come into effect on 1 December.

Almost five years since the Grenfell Tower fire claimed 72 lives in west London, the cladding that was used on the building is still not explicitly banned by legislation from new projects.

This will change under the latest update, while the ban on combustible materials on the external walls of residential buildings higher than 18m will be extended to cover new hotels, hostels and boarding houses. Hospitals, student digs and boarding-school dormitories are already included.

The government will also bring in new guidance limiting the materials that can be used on the outer walls of mid-rise buildings of between 11m and 18m tall.

Ministers said this change would ensure buildings meet “necessary safety standards”, while “allowing designers and developers flexibility to use environmentally-friendly materials”.

Other updates include moving certain elements of solar shading devices under the scope of the combustibles rules, exempting fibre-optic cables in some circumstances and “temporarily” excluding cavity trays from having to comply under specific conditions.

National Fire Chiefs Council protection & business safety committee chair Gavin Tomlinson said: “We are encouraged that unsafe MCM PE cladding panels are [to be] banned on all buildings and that the government has promised stronger safety standards for the use of combustible materials on external walls.”

Elsewhere, all new residential buildings of over 11m will have to include a secure information box, giving fire and rescue services access to important details in the event of a fire.

And new residential developments of over 18m will also have to incorporate an evacuation alert system to help firefighters inform residents of a change in evacuation strategy during an incident.

Building and fire safety minister Lord Greenhalgh said: “These changes will support our tough new regulatory regime – ensuring fire-safety measures are incorporated into new high-rise homes and all new residential buildings meet the same safety standards.

“It does not end here, and I urge the industry [to] act quickly to update their practices in line with these new rules.”

The latest changes to building regulations form another layer of the government’s ongoing response to the Grenfell Tower fire, and the subsequent Hackitt Review and ongoing public inquiry.

Ministers published the Building Safety Bill earlier this year to deal with many of the recommendations that have emerged since the tragedy.

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