High Rise Flats in Druids Heath, Birmingham
High Rise Blocks in Druids Heath

The government is banning combustible materials on new high-rise homes and giving support to local authorities to carry out emergency work to remove and replace unsafe aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding.

Regulations have been laid in Parliament today (29/11) which will give legal effect to the combustible materials ban announced in the summer. The ban means combustible materials will not be permitted on the external walls of new buildings over 18 metres containing flats, as well as new hospitals, residential care premises, dormitories in boarding schools and student accommodation over 18 metres.

Schools over 18 metres which are built as part of the government’s centrally delivered build programmes will also not use combustible materials, in line with the terms of the ban, in the external wall.

The Communities Secretary is also taking action to speed up the replacement of unsafe ACM cladding, like the type used on Grenfell Tower.

Local authorities will get the government’s full backing, including financial support if necessary, to enable them to carry out emergency work on affected private residential buildings with unsafe ACM cladding. They will recover the costs from building owners. This will allow buildings to be made permanently safe without delay.

The government is already fully funding the replacement of unsafe ACM cladding on social sector buildings above 18 metres.

Secretary of State for Communities, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said: “Everyone has a right to feel safe in their homes and I have repeatedly made clear that building owners and developers must replace dangerous ACM cladding. And the costs must not be passed on to leaseholders.

“My message is clear – private building owners must pay for this work now or they should expect to pay more later.”

In October Birmingham City Council and Croydon council called for the Government to fund sprinklers in social housing nationwide after Croydon council spent £10m installing sprinkler systems in 1,250 flats across their borough.

BCC Councillor Sharon Thompson said: “All residents in Birmingham have a fundamental right to feel safe in their own homes. Following the tragedy at Grenfell, we carried out visits to all of our 10,500 tenants to ensure that as a local authority, we were listening to them and so that we understood their concerns. This is why we are committed to spending £31m to retrofit sprinklers; because those that are living in the 213 high-rise tower blocks across the city need them to be able to feel safe.

“Recommendations from both the Hackitt Report and Government have outlined the importance of listening to residents and the need to give tenants a voice. This is exactly what we have already started doing and we will continue to put in place additional steps to strengthen and formalise this process. However, £31m is a huge cost for a single authority to bear and Government need to play their role to enable us to support our citizens.”

The councils sprinkler installation programme is a three year programme. The below lists detail the indicative year that each block is due to have sprinklers installed.

  • Year 1 – Sheltered High Rise Blocks & Blocks where work was already being carried out.
  • Year 2 – Blocks with 14 or more stories and blocks 10-14 stories with single staircase.
  • Year 3 – Blocks 10-14 stories with double staircase and blocks under 10 stories.

More information about the councils sprinkler programme can be found at: https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/sprinklers