UK bans flammable cladding

London's Grenfell tower
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UNITED Kingdom’s Theresa May government will ban the use of combustible building and insulation materials for cladding across England, the first country to make the move and following in the footsteps of Victoria and New South Wales in Australia.

In a speech, Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said the ban will bring “a change in culture on building safety”. The announcement comes 15 months after the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy, which killed 72 people.

Brokenshire said it will ensure the Grenfell tragedy “cannot happen again”.

Currently building regulations permit the use of building and insulation materials for cladding if they are “”limited combustibility”.

However, going forward it will be banned for new buildings above 60ft or 18m in high, including schools, hospitals, aged care, student housing and high-rise residential apartments. The ban covers plastics, wood and any building products that include combustible materials such as aluminium composite panels.

The only materials allowed are those classed as A1 or A2, including metal, stone, glass and plasterboard.

A government enquiry found 468 high-rise buildings are affected, however the ban will not be applied retrospectively. Although the May government has allocated £400 million to help local authorities remove combustible cladding from high rise social housing.

The government is also working with the private sector to rectify their buildings and last month threatened to ban some developers, including Australian giant Lendlease, if they fail to comply.

The new ban is expected to affect more than 1,000 buildings per annum and add as much as £10 million to construction costs.

The news has been welcomed by Grenfell survivors. The Royal Institute of British Architects called had also called for a total ban earlier this year.

The UK is the first country to make the move and follows the lead of Victoria and NSW in Australia, the only two states to act.

Although Australia has yet to adopt a national consensus on the use of combustible building materials.

In Victoria and NSW, the use of Aluminium composite panels with a core of more than 30% polyethylene has been banned on any residential buildings over two storeys and commercial over three storeys.

Currently the World Bank and United Nations-backed International Fire Safety Standards (IFSS) coalition is calling for Australian building experts to join a global expert panel, to help develop new global standards.

The IFSS coalition was created following London’s Grenfell fire and it is backed by the World Bank, the United Nations, the United Kingdom government, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and more than 30 international organisations.

London’s Grenfell was not an isolated incident, there have been cladding fires in South Korea, France, United Arab Emirates, Shanghai in China, Israel, Jakarta in Indonesia, Sao Paolo in Brazil and the Lacrosse building in Melbourne, Australia.

Dubai’s 86-storey Torch Tower has caught on fire twice, the first time in 2015 and the building was repaired using the same combustible cladding products. A fire broke out again last year.

Australian Property Journal

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