‘Overwhelming’ support for banning combustible materials on high-rise buildings

Almost three-quarters (74%) of construction industry professionals believe that using combustible materials on mid to high-rise and sensitive buildings should be banned, according to a new survey by research consultancy, Populus.

The survey, commissioned by ROCKWOOL, polled senior staff working in the construction, civil engineering and architectural industries who have responsibility for specifying or detailing construction materials. Its findings come as Dame Judith Hackitt prepares to publish the full recommendations of her post-Grenfell review of the building and fire regulatory system.

Of the 250 professionals surveyed, more than 70% say that following the Grenfell tragedy, they would be less likely to use combustible materials on newbuild and retrofit residential projects. Respondents clearly want more government leadership, with 60% saying the government, rather than the construction industry, should be responsible for defining fire safety in buildings. Significantly, nearly two-thirds (63%) also think a major overhaul of fire safety regulations in England is necessary.

What’s more, 93% of those surveyed support publicly disclosing all test results and data used to secure approval of building materials, while 62% want the Hackitt Review to recommend banning desktop studies as a route to compliance.

Gilles Maria, ROCKWOOL Group’s senior vice president, said: “It’s encouraging to see the UK construction industry advocating so strongly for banning combustible materials on mid to high-rise, and sensitive buildings. The government should take note of the industry sentiment and act quickly to require the use of non-combustible cladding and insulation materials on these types of buildings.”

Other findings:

  1. 70% believe that prescriptive regulations will be most effective in improving public safety (versus 23% who believe in outcome-based regulations)
  2. 71% agree that there is a need to make changes to the guidance in the Approved Documents of the Building Regulations in relation to fire
  3. 85% of builders, architects and construction professionals support the government providing grant funding for remedial works to make blocks safe.