The ban on the use of combustible materials in and on external walls of certain buildings over 18 metres in height has been extended to include new hotels, hostels and boarding houses. This extends the 2018 ban that covered blocks of flats, hospitals, student accommodation and dormitories in boarding schools.
These changes also ban the use of metal composite material panels with unmodified polyethylene core, known as MCM PE, on all new buildings of any height. This follows research carried out by the government and evidence heard at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry on the fire safety risks associated with this material.
New statutory guidance will also be introduced to restrict the combustibility of materials used in and on the external walls of residential buildings, between 11 and 18 metres in height. This means that lower risk mid-rise developments meet necessary safety standards while also allowing designers and developers flexibility to use environmentally friendly materials, the housing ministry said. It builds on a provision, that the government has already introduced, for sprinkler systems to be installed in new blocks of flats 11m and over, in England.
Other updates to the regulations being put forward will:
- include elements of solar shading devices within the scope of the ban
- amend the list of materials exempt from the ban to include fibre optic cables and insulation materials 300mm from ground level
- update the requirement of the ban to refer to the latest version of the British Standard classification for materials used on high-rise residential buildings
- temporarily exempt cavity trays
- amend the requirements for material change of use in buildings.
As part of this, the government has published an update on its technical review of guidance on building regulations for fire safety – known as Approved Document B – and the evidence supporting it.
The amendments also include measures to strengthen the information available to fire and rescue services in tall buildings. All new residential buildings over 11 metres now have to include a secure information box giving give fire and rescue services access to details about a building in the event of a fire. New residential developments over 18 metres will also have to have an evacuation alert system to help fire and rescue services inform residents of a change in evacuation strategy, during an incident.
More information on Approved Document B is available at www.gov.uk.