Parliament Debates Tower Blocks

Fri 25 Jan 2019
Issue 18 cover

Parliament made time between the Brexit dramas to answer urgent questions about cladding removal on Grenfell style towers. It had been widely reported in the press on the day of the debate that a Manchester tower block was found with flammable cladding and the construction firm responsible failed to pass on findings of the test. 

Minister Kit Malthouse explained:
‘I understand that the local fire and rescue service is satisfied that everybody will be safe in that building tonight, and that temporary measures are in place while the work is being done. There seems to be some complication about getting that work done, but it is being done.’

The Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, John Healey had asked an ‘Urgent Question’  for an update on ‘action taken and planned by the Government with respect to high-rise residential blocks with dangerous cladding.’ He admitted that tests on non-aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding are yet to be carried out.

Some MPs were not satisfied with the minister’s responses, such as SNP’s Alison Thewliss saying: 
‘In the more than 18 months since the Grenfell tragedy, there seems have been a continued lack of progress and reform. The Royal Institute of British Architects has stated that England lags behind Wales and Scotland, which have in place, or are introducing, regulations to require sprinklers and provide a second means of escape. The Scottish Government-led review of the Scottish fire safety regime by the building and fire safety ministerial working group produced its conclusions and recommendations in December last year.’ 

Later in the debate Kit Malthouse suggested that whole block demolitions may be preferable to recladding.

Refurbishment often presents more challenges than demolishing and replacing them. In doing so, the consideration of a different formulation—including streets, squares, low rise and high density—may well be preferable to high rise.

Cover image: Mirror

Until next week. Please make sure to send in your ideas to
Author: Jane Briginshaw, Design England

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