Hackitt report avoids ban on cladding materials

The Hackitt review, which looked into the potential causes of construction failures at Grenfell Tower, has called for a “radical rethink” of the regulatory system, propos- ing the establishment of a new overseeing body for building safety.

The final report of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety by engineer Dame Judith Hackitt was published on 17 May, entitled ‘Building A Safer Future.’ It steers away from advocating a ban on combustible cladding materials, instead focusing on perceived failures of competence and accountability in the construction industry. Dame Hackitt commented that she would support the Government if it were to impose an outright ban on combustible cladding, however the report does not propose such a ban. Following the report’s release, Housing and Communities Secretary James Brokenshire has commented that the ‘desktop studies’ which have been used to support the use of combustible cladding could be banned by the Government if a consultation currently underway doubts their safety. He said: “The inappropriate use of desktop studies is unacceptable and I will not hesitate to ban them if the consultation, which closes on the 25th of May, does not demonstrate they can be used safely.” Addressing the issue on BBC Radio 4, Hackitt explained that the report is “about more than simply issuing a ban on certain materials.” Hackitt told the BBC: “Cladding is one

issue; there are many other features and many other shortcuts out there that could result in other disasters in the future, which need to address as part of this. It needs a whole-system change.” In the report, Hackitt identifies the

current system of Building Regulations and fire safety as unfit for purpose, with “ambiguous” regulations providing room for loopholes in the system. The new framework prosed would aim to strengthen the current system, while introducing a new Joint Competent Authority (JCA) comprising of Local Authority Building Standards, fire and rescue authorities and the Health and Safety Executive. Brian Berry, chief executive of the

Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said the review provides a blueprint to ensure competence in construction. He said the

report is “the culmination of a long and thorough review into the weaknesses of the current approach to competency and compliance in the sector, weaknesses which can serve to undermine safety. It is a suitably serious response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.”

sites. This will enable Homes England’s regional delivery teams to engage directly with consultants with sound regional knowledge and experience

• A project, cost management and develop- ment monitoring framework

Homes England announces frameworks

The procurement of new Multidisciplinary and Technical Services Frameworks has been announced by Homes England. It is hoped this will broaden the range of technical and design services available to support Homes England’s and other public bodies’ work to accelerate the supply of new homes.

These frameworks will provide “direct access to professional, technical and design services, intended to build the working relationships needed within service- providers to prepare land for housing development and disposal to the market”. Stephen Kinsella, director for land at Homes England commented on the announcement: “This will be the fifth generation of our multidisciplinary frame- work and our biggest yet, demonstrating Homes England’s expanded role in bring- ing together land and expertise to speed up the building of new homes. “We want to create strong working relationships with a wider range of compa- nies who can provide valuable technical advice and design expertise to help acceler- ate housing development, deliver value for money and great places to live.” The new frameworks will have an underpinning Multidisciplinary Framework, which will act as a “one stop shop” to procure a range of integrated technical and design services from a single source. Homes England has operated this arrangement in the past, and will enable the organisation to continue to work with companies and their specialist sub-consultant teams.

The Multidisciplinary Framework will also be supplemented by a range of special- ist frameworks to meet specific future needs. These specialist frameworks will consist of: • Five regionally based frameworks to provide planning, masterplanning and consultation services to help obtain planning permission on Homes England

• Specialist site survey and asbestos frame- works to provide very specific services and prepare brownfield land Valued at £150m, the new framework will replace its former iteration that expires in November 2018.

Khan launches first council housebuilding programme

The first ever City Hall programme dedicated to supporting council housebuilding has been revealed, using funds from the £1.67bn announced in the Spring Statement. According to the Mayor’s Office, in the 1970s London councils were supported by central Government and built more than 20,000 homes a year, but that number fell to almost zero during the 1990s. Today, councils contribute less than two per cent of London’s new homes per year, London councils having built 2,100 homes over the last seven years, including 300 that were completed last year.

Entitled Building Council Homes for Londoners, City Hall’s programme is intended to offer increased expertise and flexibility over funding, and will give councils the opportunity to bid for grant funding at a special rate. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan,

commented: “I am proud to announce the launch of Building Council Homes for Londoners – the first ever City Hall programme dedicated to new council housing. I want to help councils get back to building homes for Londoners again, and I’m doing that with support from the £1.67bn fund I secured from Government to help get 10,000 new homes underway over the next four years. “I am offering councils expertise and resources from City Hall to scale up their homebuilding programmes, and I will help them to replace homes sold through Right to Buy. The Government is failing to enable councils to replace the hundreds of thousands of council homes sold through Right to Buy, and so I will do all I can to help councils replace as many of them as possible.”


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