Hackitt to consider more prescriptive approach
MPs have welcomed comments by Dame Judith Hackitt about the need for a more prescriptive approach to building regulation.
In a letter to the communities and local government select committee, Dame Judith, who chairs the independent review of building regulations and fire safety, said she wants to “create a culture” where there is a clear focus on “building and maintaining safety throughout the lifetime of buildings”.
“I do agree that there is a need for some prescription within regulations and guidance, but it is a system with clear roles and responsibilities, clear permission points and strong enforcement and sanctions that will drive the culture change towards intelligent thinking that will in turn deliver safe building outcomes,” wrote Dame Judith.
Testing electrical appliances
In January, the chair of the committee, Clive Betts wrote to Dame Judith, calling on her to reconsider her view that the review should not examine the current regime for testing domestic electrical appliances.
The letter also urged her to also undertake an examination of Part P of the building regulations.
In her reply, Dame Judith said the review would be limited to products that form an “integral part of the fabric of the building”, as opposed to appliances.
And turning to the use of cladding materials, she said there is currently a choice between using products of “limited combustibility” or undergoing a full-system test.
“For the future, my view is clear that the former is undoubtedly the low-risk option,” wrote Dame Judith.
“Where the person undertaking the work chooses the latter option, not only must they ensure that the full system is tested, but they must also ensure that the potential risks are mitigated by ensuring the system is properly installed and maintained throughout its life cycle.”
Speaking after the letter was published, Mr Betts welcomed her comments that some degree of prescription was required.
“It’s telling that Dame Judith herself noted that current views varied as to whether the regulations permit the use of combustible materials in the cladding of high-rise buildings,” said the committee chair.
“I have raised this in a series of parliamentary questions over the last month, and am yet to receive a satisfactory answer from the Government.”
The final report by the independent review is expected to be published in the Spring.
The interim Hackitt report, published in January, was widely back by the fire industry. For more information, read here.
To read Dame Judith’s letter in full see here.