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Combustible Cladding | BUILDING MAGAZINE

Combustible Cladding

Tougher standards for external wall materials on new medium-rise blocks of flats have been announced by the government.

Extending the 2018 ban which covered blocks of flats, hospitals, student accommodation and dormitories in boarding schools, the new regulations include the ban on combustible materials in and on external walls of certain buildings over 18 metres in height in new hotels, hostels and boarding houses.

Following research carried out by the government and evidence heard at the Grenfell Tower inquiry on the fire safety risks associated with this material the ban includes the use of metal composite material panels with unmodified polyethylene core, known as MCM PE, on all new buildings of any height.

New statutory guidance is also to be introduced to restrict the combusibility of materials used in and on external walls of residential buildings between 11 and 18 metres in height. This will mean that lower risk mid-rise developments meet the necessary safety standard while allowing designers and developers the flexibility to use environmentally friendly materials. This of course, adds to the provision already introduced by the government for sprinkler systems to be installed in new blocks of flats 11m and over in England.

Further updates to the regulations put forward:-

  • include elements of solar shading devices within the scope of the ban
  • amend the list of materials exempt from the ban to include fibre optic cables and insulations materials 300mm from ground level.
  • update the requirements of the ban to refer to the latest version of the British Standard Classification for materials used on high-rise residential buildings
  • temporarily exempt cavity trays
  • amend the requirments for material change of use in buildings

The government has published an update on its technical review of guidance on building regulations for fire safety – known as Approved Document B – and the evidence supporting it.

Measures to strengthen information available to fire and rescue services in tall building are also to be included in the amendment. All new residential buildings over 11 metres now have to include a secure information box giving fire and rescue services access to details about a building in the event of a fire. New residential developments over 18 metres will also have to have an evacuation alert system to help fire and rescue service inform residents of a change in evacuation plans during an incident.

Approved Document B for more information is available at:-