Ban On Combustibles

Thu 6 Dec 2018
Issue 12 cover image

Combustible cladding is to be banned for new hospitals, care homes, dormitories in boarding schools, student accommodation and for flats above 18m (60ft) in height in England.

The ban is to come into effect 21st December 2018. The ban will also apply where building work is being carried out, in line with the definition of building work in the Building Regulations, including changes of use and material alterations.

Changes to Building Regulations are usually accompanied by a long transition period. It goes without saying the ban cannot come fast enough for people living in effected buildings. However, the fall-out for other areas of policy, such as the use of sustainable materials may not have been completely mastered.

Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire’s Written Ministerial Statement (29.11.18) confirmed that the ban would include:
• combustible insulation as well as cladding
• combustible materials in window spandrel panels and infill panels, although not window frames.
• balconies, which are often made from combustible materials and have helped to spread fire across walls in the past.

The ban was criticised for failing to protect buildings such as schools and hospitals which are not above 18m. The position on sprinklers and alternative means of escape has not yet been clarified.

Support for local councils to protect at-risk towers
The ban gives local councils the power to order the removal of cladding from ‘at risk’ existing buildings. A new joint inspection team led by the Local Government Association will be created to provide support to local authorities when making their assessments. The government had already released £248m to fund the replacement of dangerous ACM cladding on social housing blocks across the country. The statement gave additional guidance for local councils to use their housing powers to enforce remediation on private building owners who are not making progress on removing unsafe ACM cladding from their buildings.

Local Authority Building Control CEO said: ‘Owners of private residential blocks needing remediation work now have the clarity they need on the use of non-combustible systems and products to get on with the job. And our colleagues in local authority housing teams will have additional powers and resources to deal with those private building owners who aren't moving fast enough on necessary remediation work’. However there are reports of owners passing on the cost of safety works to residents. 

The amendment to Approved Document B, has ruled out the use of any material within an external wall that does not have one of the top combustibility ratings, with the exception of membranes, seals and gaskets.

The use of cross-laminated timber in buildings over 18m tall appears to have been barred. Engineered timber, particularly cross-laminated timber (CLT), is increasingly being championed in architecture as a sustainable alternative to steel and concrete structural frameworks. This ban will have implications for CLT that do not meet the required combustible rating.

Cover image: Dezeen

Until next week. Please make sure to send in your ideas to info@designnetwork.org.uk
Author: Jane Briginshaw, Design England

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