Sector backs Hackitt’s attack on ‘broken’ system

Focus on systemic problems rather than technical details praised

Dame Judith Hackitt said reform is needed to rebuild trust

Dame Judith Hackitt has received support from across the building services sector after calling for fundamental change to the way high-rise and ‘at risk’ buildings are planned, built and managed. The current regime is ‘broken’, according to the inquiry Dame Judith led into building regulations and fire safety after the Grenfell Tower fire, and reform is needed to improve safety and rebuild trust among those living in high-rise buildings.

Her report highlighted a culture of ‘indifference’ to the regulations that produced a ‘race to the bottom’ on price, which undermined safety and building performance. The construction industry will now have to take responsibility for delivering safe buildings ‘rather than looking to others to tell them what is or is not acceptable’, said Dame Judith.

CIBSE technical director Hywel Davies said the review addressed issues that members have grappled with for years.

‘Ensuring the safety of the buildings in which we live and work requires exactly the root-and-branch reform set out in this thoughtful and well-informed document,’ he said.

The institution welcomed the review’s focus on the need to improve competence within the construction and fire-safety sectors, and establishing a more robust system of oversight. It also supported the commitment to produce clearer regulations and guidance.

CIBSE will be taking part in further consultation on the measures needed ‘to achieve real change in the industry’.

Key recommendations

  • Products critical to the safety of tower blocks should be re-tested by manufacturers at least once every three years
  • Formation of a Joint Competent Authority, covering local authority building standards, fire and rescue services and the HSE
  • Independent body with safety oversight on behalf of residents
  • Register of building owners or landlords responsible for safety aspects of tower blocks