COUNCILS will be able to take action to remove dangerous ACM cladding from private residential blocks and recoup the costs from building owners, the Government has said.
Yesterday, communities secretary James Brokenshire MP announced that the Government is banning combustible materials on new highrise homes and would support local authorities to carry out emergency work to remove and replace unsafe aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding.
The ban, first announced in the summer, was put into effect by regulations laid in Parliament yesterday, which set it on a legal basis. It means that 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.
The secretary of state also said that 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, according to the Ministry of Housing. The Government is already fully funding the replacement of unsafe ACM cladding on social sector buildings above 18 metres.
“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,” Brokenshire said.
The ban and the offer of support has gone down well with the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England and Wales.
“The LGA has led calls for a ban on combustible materials being used on high-rise buildings and it is great to see James Brokenshire act. This ban will provide clarity for building owners who need to know what they can use to replace dangerous cladding and insulation and immediately help keep buildings safer,” said the LGA’s chair, Lord Gary Porter.
“Local authorities acted swiftly following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower to implement precautionary measures where necessary and remove flammable materials on their high-rise blocks.
“Councils also worked hard to try and confirm with building owners whether they have dangerous cladding on their high-rise residential buildings. Some private landlords have shown a lack of urgency to identify which buildings have cladding and insulation systems that have failed fire safety tests and take steps to make them safe.
“The measures will therefore help councils take the steps necessary to ensure all residents in their local area are safe and feel safe in their homes, regardless of whether they own the block or not, and to ensure that a tragedy like that at Grenfell never happens again.”