Almost 4 years on from the introduction of Regulations banning the use of combustible materials in and on the external walls of buildings, the Government have announced plans to update the Regulations (via the Building etc. (Amendment)(England) Regulations 2022 (the "Regulations") - making a number of amendments to the ban. The changes follow the Government's 2020 consultation: 'review of the ban on the use of combustible materials in and on the external walls of buildings' , which received responses from a number of organisations and individuals within the construction industry.

Ban on Metal Composite Materials ("MCM")

One of the main changes to be introduced will be a complete ban on MCM with an unmodified polyethylene (PE) core, which will include the type of material which was used on the external walls of Grenfell Tower, in the external walls of all new buildings and buildings undergoing building works, regardless of height or use. This is in keeping with the total ban on this type of material already in place in Scotland which, as we discussed in our recent blog, came into effect on 1 June 2022 following the introduction of the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2022.

Other changes within the Regulations

The updated Regulations will also bring hotels, hostels and boarding houses within the scope of the building types included within the ban on combustible materials, and curtains and slats or solar shading devices within scope of attachments included within the ban. The updates also make changes to the list of materials exempted from the combustible materials ban, adding fibre optic cables and insulation up to 300mm from ground level to the list, whilst providing an 18-month temporary relaxation for cavity trays. Finally, there are also updates to the performance requirements needed for materials to comply with the combustible materials ban.

New guidance for residential buildings between 11m and 18m

The Government have also announced that they will be issuing an amendment to Approved Document B, which introduces new guidance for external walls and balconies for residential buildings between 11m and 18m in height. Further information on this new guidance can be found in the Amendment Booklet.

Whilst this brings the requirements for residential buildings between 11m and 18m closer to those 18m or taller, a difference in treatment remains. Whether in future, further guidance or regulations are put in place to align the regime in England with that of the Scottish regime, where any domestic building 11m or taller is within scope of the strictest regulations on cladding, is yet to be seen.

What next?

  • The amended Regulations and amendment to Approved Document B will take effect in England on 1 December 2022.
  • As discussed in our recent blog the Government are currently seeking views on the definition of "higher risk" buildings in England and Wales which will fall under the responsibility of the soon to be introduced Building Safety Regulator. If you would like to provide your views the consultation closes on 21 July 2022, click here.

Contributors

Eric Johnstone

Legal Director

Laura Townsend

Trainee Solicitor