New government review of tower block safety advice

Critics claim tests incomplete with some blocks being missed.

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Tower blocks fitted with combustible cladding and insulation may have been missed post Grenfell testing programme – prompting a government review of building safety advice with critics claiming tests are incomplete.

On Monday (Nov 26), 24housing reported accusations of a new MHCLG tenant fire safety group excluding tenants from its deliberations.

It subsequently emerged that Housing Secretary James Brokenshire told a panel of fire experts to examine whether further action is needed to ensure the safety of potentially thousands of residents in combustibly clad towers that have not been the focus of government safety checks.

“The government’s independent expert advisory panel has already published advice to building owners about other types of cladding and what action should be taken. I have asked them to review this advice to determine if additional action or guidance is required,” Brokenshire said.

Due this week is an announcement confirming a ban on combustible materials – including the aluminium composite material panels and foam insulation used at Grenfell – on all new residential buildings more than 18 metres (59ft) high.

UK wide, 457 residential towers have been identified as using ACM, which is subject to stripping and replacement.

But the ban is not expected to be retrospective.

Estimates suggest this leaves about 160 buildings likely to feature combustible insulation set to be banned for new buildings, with some of these also clad in high-pressure laminate (HPL) panels, some of which are combustible and also expected to be prohibited on high-rises.

Last month, the government updated advice to building owners over concerns about “heightened risks” linked to other external wall systems.

Specifically citing HPLs, this advice urged large-scale fire tests of systems saying owners should ensure products have been properly identified and “ensure they adequately resist the spread of fire over the wall to the standard required by current building regulations guidance”.

The government has so far spent £400m on the removal and replacement of Grenfell-style cladding and insulation on social housing blocks.

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