The Hackitt Review – the verdict

Almost a year on from the devastating Grenfell Tower blaze, the ordered Hackitt Review was delivered at the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee session on Thursday 17th May. While many welcomed some aspects of the review, others weren’t as accepting when it came to the review falling short of banning combustible cladding. Here, FC&A looks at some of the responses from both the industry and the public realm.

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FSF President, Brian Robinson:

“The Fire Sector Federation (FSF) welcomes the completion of the review and recognises the direction is consistent with the UK’s approach to general health and safety.

“We are pleased to see a greater focus on the recognition of responsibilities and control of the fire safety building performance through the whole process from planning to building occupation and throughout the life of a building. We also support the creation of the Joint Competent Authority.

“The report gives us a direction of travel, but it is now up to the Government to drive the recommendations forward, particularly those on regulation and testing, and to set and enforce high standards. Dame Judith has formulated a long-term plan which will take time to achieve. The lack of an interim arrangement and the need for substantial further work does not give confidence in an immediate or long-term outcome which will provide residents with the reassurance they need.

“We are concerned that the proposals do not go far enough to ensure the fitness for purpose of designs, materials, products and building processes. The industry needs direction, and this is just as important for contractors, sub-contractors and facility managers working on site every day as it is for members of professional institutions.

“While we welcome the recognition that the industry should take responsibility for developing suitable guidance and standards, the challenge is not for the construction sector alone. We believe that it is vital for the wider fire sector to be significantly involved in any arrangements and will collaborate widely to help develop the far-reaching solutions required to solve this highly complex problem.”

RIBA President, Ben Derbyshire:

“This review should have been a defining moment – a set of findings to bring real and meaningful change to the complexity and confusion surrounding core Building Regulations guidance. Whilst there are elements of Dame Judith Hackitt’s review that we very much welcome, we are extremely concerned that it has failed to act on the urgent need to immediately protect life safety through a more detailed programme of simplified and improved regulations, standards and guidance. The review recognises that the changes it recommends will require legislative change and take time to fully implement. In the meantime, we are left with confusion and lack of clarity. We will be continuing to stress our detailed concerns to Government.”

Association for Specialist Fire Protection CEO, Niall Rowan:

“The ASFP supports the report as aiming to deliver a better-built environment with fire safety given the proper consideration it deserves.

“We believe the focus on high-risk residential buildings (HRRBs) is a good place to start, but we would like to see many of the recommendations rolled out progressively to cover the great majority of buildings since the issues raised are applicable to all buildings and not just HRRBs.

“The greater emphasis on considering fire safety early in the design process and so building what was designed is in alignment with the work we have been doing with RIBA on the creating a Fire Safety Overlay for the RIBA Plan of Works. Furthermore, to have a dedicated dutyholder is also a logical step in coordinating fire safety throughout the construction process and prevents responsibility being passed onto others when problems arise.

“The ASFP also strongly supports the suggestion that third-party product certification be made mandatory. This is something for which we have been campaigning for many years.”

Managing Director of Vivalda Group, Ben Jayes:

“We were expecting a far clearer statement from Dame Judith, which would include banning any combustible material on tall buildings. We had also hoped to see sharper teeth when it came to independent building inspection; however, this appeared to have been overlooked in favour of tighter regulations outlined in the report.

“On a more positive note, while it is encouraging to see that the role of ‘dutyholders’ within the planning, design and construction phase of building projects is given weight, I can’t help feeling let down by the final review. We were expecting something stronger.

“Independence and simplicity are the antiseptics we need to guard against unsafe buildings – this all feels too weak to affect the major culture change that’s needed in the construction industry.”

NAPIT Group’s Chief Executive, Mike Andrews:

“We are pleased to see that this report has seen the clear benefits of the self-certification model. Since our foundation 25 years ago, NAPIT have believed in self-certification as a way to ensure compliance with the Building Regulations, and we go further than the recommendations suggested by Dame Judith by requiring that all operatives, rather than just a qualifying supervisor, are assessed as competent in the registration process. We welcome the creation of a Joint Competent Authority to ensure that work done in higher risk properties reaches the desired standards.

“We support the suggestion that bodies which accredit competence should themselves be accredited. Schemes which are accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) require installers to be competent and to be regularly assessed to demonstrate their ongoing competence. This approach is currently in use by all Competent Person Schemes, including those run by NAPIT, and by the Quality Mark being developed in the wake of the Each Home Counts Review. All members registered on our Competent Person Scheme receive a card outlining their competence, and this has worked successfully in practice. ECS Gold Cards for electricians, which are mentioned in the report, are not UKAS accredited and do not require the ongoing assessment of actual installation work.”

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