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Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, who has also contributed to numerous national business titles including Utility Week, the Municipal Journal, Environment Journal and consumer titles such as Classic Rock.
May 4, 2018

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MPs call for ban on the use of desktop studies

An influential group of MPs has written to the new housing secretary, calling for a ban on the use of desktop studies to assess the safety of cladding materials for tower blocks.

The Chair of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, Clive Betts has written to James Brokenshire, who replaced Sajid Javid after this week, warning that the use of desktop studies is “clearly dangerous”.

In the letter, Mr Betts calls for the use of the studies to be banned for so long as combustible materials continue to be used in the cladding of high-rise buildings.

“We are concerned that the over-use of desktop studies may be a contributory factor to a weaker, less stringent regulatory regime and increases the likelihood of dangerous materials being used on high-rise residential buildings,” the letter states.

The letter also reiterates the committee’s view that the use of combustible materials in the cladding of tower blocks should be banned altogether, as opposed to a risk-based approach to building regulations and guidance.

The committee has previously also written to Dame Judith Hackitt, who is leading the independent review set up by the Government in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire.

“Whilst we anticipate that the independent review is likely to conclude in favour of a risk-based approach to future building regulations and guidance, we have stated on a number of occasions now our strongly-held view that some prescription will be necessary, and a regulatory system that does not explicitly prohibit combustible materials from the external cladding of high-rise buildings would be a serious mistake,” the letter states.

Earlier this week, SHP Online reported that the Local Government Association (LGA) has called on the Government to resist “industry pressure” to keep using desktop studies as a means of proving whether building materials are safe.

LGA chair Lord Porter they should no longer be used for cladding systems on high-rise and complex buildings.

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