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. The full report can be found on this link.
One of the recommendations within the report, 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, we are seeing housing associations and specifiers chose a non-combustible product even if the building is below 18 metres in height 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 in the consultation is to reduce the building height of buildings banning 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 regulation change in the near future.
REPLACING COMBUSTIBLE DECKING
As well as new build projects, the most recent advice note from the ministry of housing also states that the removal of combustible decking from existing buildings is the clearest way to prevent external fire spread and 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. Councils as early as 2019 started replacing traditional decking materials such as timber and composite decking for non-combustible options.