CURRENT BUILDING REGULATIONS
In response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the Government commissioned dame Judith Hackitt to independently review the UK’s building regulations and fire safety. An impact assessment was presented to parliament in November 2018 and set out over 50 recommendations to ensure a more robust approach to managing higher risk residential buildings. You can read the full report here.
One of the recommendations was to ban all but non-combustible materials (a minimum classification of Euroclass A2-S1, d0) from being used on residential buildings over 18 metres in height.
These recommendations were accepted and formed the new building regulations when they were updated in December 2018. Even with the new regulations, many housing associations and specifiers choose a non-combustible product even if the building is below 18 metres in height. This is to ensure they comply with any future amendments to the regulations.
ANTICIPATED UPDATE OF REGULATIONS
An industry consultation was launched early in 2020 to review the ban on combustible materials in and on the external walls of buildings. One of the proposals is to reduce the height of buildings subject to a ban on combustible materials from 18 metres to 11 metres. The decision to future-proof projects seems to be a wise one with this consultation potentially leading to a regulatory change in the near future.
REPLACING COMBUSTIBLE DECKING
The changes are not just relevant to new build projects. The most recent advice note from the Ministry of Housing states that removing combustible decking from existing buildings is the clearest way to prevent external fire spread. It states that this should occur as soon as practical following a major fire in Barking which engulfed the building. Further information on replacing combustible decking on existing buildings can be found here. As early as 2019, councils started replacing traditional decking materials such as timber and composite decking for non-combustible options.