Dame Judith Hackitt to head up independent review into Building Regulations and fire safety

An independent review of Building Regulations and fire safety was announced by the government on Friday, July 28.

This comes after government testing of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding from buildings across the country.

The first result from large scale tests of building cladding systems was also published on the same day as the announcement. These latest tests simulate a tall building and allow experts to understand better how different types of cladding panels behave with different types of insulation in a fire.

The first system tested, a wall cladding system using an aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding with unmodified polyethylene filler (Cat 3) and foam insulation, failed the test which is set out in current Building Regulations guidance.

Action is already said to be underway to ensure the safety of residents in these buildings. But the results also make clear that the industry needs to understand how current Building Regulations and fire safety works in order to make them as effective as possible in the future.

This forward-looking independent review is to be led by Dame Judith Hackitt, Chair of EEF, the Manufacturers’ Organisation, who will look at current Building Regulations and fire safety with a particular focus on high-rise residential buildings. It will report jointly to the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and the Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

It will examine:

  • The regulatory system around the design, construction and on-going management of buildings in relation to fire safety.
  • Related compliance and enforcement issues.
  • International regulation and experience in this area.

The Construction Product Association (CPA) has welcomed this review and Dr Diana Montgomery, chief executive, said: “The CPA welcomes the appointment of Dame Judith to chair this review. Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, it is imperative all is done to provide reassurance and ensure the safety of residents within high-rise buildings. Her experience as Chair at EEF and previously Chair at the Health and Safety Executive, demonstrate she is the correct person to lead this response. The CPA looks forward to doing what we can to support these efforts.”
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This independent review will ensure we can swiftly make any necessary improvements.”
As part of the review, Dame Judith will consult the Buildings Regulations Advisory Committee – which advises the government on changes to Building Regulations – as well as the construction and housing industry, the fire sector, international experts, MPs and the public.

The review will reportedly also work closely with other government departments and the devolved administrations and consider the implications of changes to the regulatory system on other government objectives.

Review Chair, Dame Judith Hackitt said: “This review will look at Building Regulations and fire safety to see what changes can be made for the future to make these more effective.

I am keen to engage widely with industry and the public to inform the recommendations from the review. I want the recommendations to lead to any necessary improvements in the system being made.”

It is expected that the review will present an interim report before the end of the year, and a final report no later than spring 2018.