The Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has published updates on Building Regulations and the Building Safety Programme along with measures to support ongoing remediation work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
New announcements on the Building Safety Programme
Today’s announcements by the MHCLG Secretary of State cover four areas of the Building Safety programme.
1.The Government’s response to the Building a Safer Future consultation and the details of the new, national, Building Safety Regulator. The Government will legislate for these reforms through the Building Safety Bill, which puts residents’ safety at its heart with a view to delivering the biggest change in building safety for a generation.
2.Updates to Approved Document Band the increased fire safety measures for high-rise flats. This has been updated to further tighten fire safety measures, following the recent MHCLG consultation. Sprinkler systems and clear wayfinding signage will be compulsory in all new high-rise flats over 11 metres.
3.MHCLG has published the latestresults of tests into non-ACM cladding. The tests have improved our understanding of how these materials react when burnt. Different types of high-pressure laminate (HPL) and timber cladding were tested; the results confirmed the non-ACM materials all showed greater resistance to heat than ACM counterparts.
4.Government is supporting a new industry led online portal to clarify the mortgage valuation process through the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) external wall system form. MHCLG has been working closely with industry to clarify the valuation process through the RICS External Wall System (EWS) form. This work means developing an online portal for completed EWS1 forms covering cladding-related valuation assessments. Both lenders and leaseholders will be able to access the information needed to support a more accurate mortgage valuations. In addition, the MHCLG Secretary of State intents to host a lender roundtable to further explain government’s focus on high-rise residential buildings over 18 metres and ensure lenders can agree a rational approach to lending under 18 metres.
COVID-19 and Building Remediation
Government has also announced further sector specific measures to deal with the severe challenges presented by the spread of Covid-19. The Government’s view is that the work to remove unsafe cladding from buildings is critical to public safety and so must remain a top priority. New measures include:
•New, enhanced project management support to the building remediation programme will allow Government to identify and seek solutions to Covid-19 impacts, including on labour and supply, through engagement with individual remediation projects.
•The Government’s construction expert, Dr David Hancock, has been appointed to review ACM remediation, and Faithful & Gould construction consultants, have been appointed to provide additional programme management capability. This additional construction expertise support will identify blockers and work with those responsible for remediation to support individual projects.
•Last month, the Government announced a £1 billion fund through 2020/21 to support the remediation of unsafe non-ACM cladding materials on high rise buildings. Government is working to make this funding available as quickly as possible and aims to publish the prospectus in May, opening for registrations soon after.