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Wed June 03 2020

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Progress still tortuous on ACM cladding replacement

18 May More than two-thirds of at-risk buildings with Grenfell Tower-style flammable ACM cladding have yet to be fixed, despite nearly three years having passed since the fire.

The ACM cladding system contributed substantially to the spread of fire at Grenfell Tower
The ACM cladding system contributed substantially to the spread of fire at Grenfell Tower

Most of the high-rise tower blocks still clad in flammable aluminium composite material (ACM) sheets are in London and Greater Manchester.

Salford and the London boroughs of Greenwich, Newham and Tower Hamlets have more than 20 high-rise residential buildings with ACM cladding systems yet to be remediated.

Manchester and the London boroughs of Brent, Wandsworth and Westminster all have between 11 and 20 buildings with ACM cladding systems.

The dangers of ACM cladding become apparent soon after Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey block of flats in west London, caught fire on 14th June 2017. The rapid spread of the fire, which killed 72 residents, was attributed to it accelerating through voids in the cladding system and the flammability of the cladding material.

As of 30th April 2020, latest government numbers reveal, there are 149 high-rise residential and publicly owned buildings in England that have completed remediation works to remove and replace similar ACM cladding systems – an increase of five since the end of March.

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There are 307 high-rise residential and publicly owned buildings with ACM cladding systems yet to be remediated in England. 56 of these buildings have had their cladding systems removed.

Of the 82 social sector residential buildings with ACM cladding systems yet to be remediated:

  • 73 have started remediation;
  • 9 have a remediation plan in place but works have not started.

Of the 180 private sector residential buildings with ACM cladding systems yet to be remediated:

  • 49 have started remediation;
  • 90 have a remediation plan in place but works have not started;
  • 40 have responded with an intent to remediate and are developing plans; and
  • 1 has unclear remediation plans.

Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has been in contact with owners of those buildings that have started remediation (excluding those that are complete awaiting building control signoff) to understand the impact of Covid-19 on remediation progress. As at 30th April, for those sites where data has been provided: 52 sites had paused, while 45 sites were continuing to work, including 14 that had re-opened following an initial pause.

On 11th March 2020, the government announced in the budget a £1bn fund in 2020/21 to fund the removal and replacement of unsafe non-ACM cladding systems. The government aims to publish the application prospectus for the new fund in May and open for registrations soon after.

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