building safety,
© Gary Hider

Mandatory sprinkler systems and consistent wayfinding signage in all new high-rise blocks of flats over 11 metres tall are among the new measures to further reform the building safety system

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has confirmed new building safety system measures which include mandatory sprinkler systems and consistent wayfinding signage in all new high-rise blocks of flats over 11 metres tall.

Jenrick said the reforms were the ‘biggest changes in a generation to ensure residents are safe in their homes’.

The government’s construction expert, David Hancock, has also been appointed to review the progress of removing unsafe ACM cladding from buildings.

The reforms are designed to incentivise compliance and to better enable the use of enforcement powers and sanctions, including prosecution where the rules are not followed.

The housing secretary will hold a roundtable with mortgage lenders to work on an agreed approach to mortgage valuations for properties in buildings under 18 metres tall, providing certainty for owners affected by vital building safety work.

Biggest change in building safety

Jenrick said: “The government is bringing about the biggest change in building safety for a generation.

“Today we have made a major step towards this by publishing our response to the Building a Safer Future consultation. This new regime will put residents’ safety at its heart, and follows the announcement of the unprecedented £1bn fund for removing unsafe cladding from high-rise buildings in the Budget.

“Today we are also announcing that the housing industry is designing a website so lenders and leaseholders can access the information needed to proceed with sales and re-mortgaging, and the government stands ready to help to ensure this work is completed at pace.

“Building safety is a priority and the government is supporting industry in ensuring homes are safe at this difficult time.”

Non-ACM cladding testing results

The latest non-ACM (aluminium composite material) cladding testing results have been published yesterday (2 April) and highlight that none of the materials, including high-pressure laminate (HPL) and timber cladding, behaved in the same way as ACM.

The government is clear that any unsafe materials should be removed from buildings quickly. External wall systems on high-rise buildings using Class C or D HPL panels are unsafe and should be removed as they do not comply with building regulations.

The government recognises the challenges presented to the building industry by COVID-19. The work to remove unsafe cladding from buildings is critical to public safety and so remains a top priority.

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