Hundreds of tower blocks in England still have cladding that does not meet regulations

Hundreds of high rise blocks in England still have cladding systems that are unlikely to meet building regulations in the aftermath of the deadly Grenfell tower fire, official figures show.

They include residential buildings owned by councils and private landlords, student accommodation, hotels, a school and health buildings with Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding.

Overall some 361 high rise residential and public buildings exist where ACM cladding systems unlikely to meet Building Regulations remain in place, according to figures published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

The Government has banned combustible materials on new high rise homes. The ban has been implemented through the Building (Amendment) Regulations 2018 which came into force on 21 December with a two month transitional period.

The ban does not apply to existing buildings where no building work is being carried out. In these instances, they are part of a case by case risk based approach to fire safety in existing buildings that is regarded as being most appropriate in line with the advice already issued by the Department and the Expert Panel.

Some councils, including Greenwich, Salford and Tower Hamlets have more than 20 buildings where ACM cladding systems are unlikely to meet building regulations, while Brent, Manchester, Newham, Wandsworth, and Westminster have between 11 and 20.

Of the total where work needs done some 119 are social sector residential buildings, managed by local authorities or housing associations and 233 are private sector buildings, and nine are publicly owned buildings.

In the social sector some 79 have started remediation, 39 have a remediation plan in place but remediation has not started and building owners intend to remediate and are developing plans for one further building.

Of the 233 private sector buildings some 167 are private residential blocks, 36 are student accommodation and 30 are hotels. Of these 19 have started remediation, 127 have a remediation plan in place but remediation works have not started and building owners intend to remediate and are developing plans for 37 buildings.

But remediation plans remain unclear for 50 buildings, although this has fallen from over 200 in June 2018. There remain 13 private sector buildings where the cladding status is still to be confirmed and the figures show that this has fallen from approximately 170 buildings in June 2018.

The data also shows that there are 73 high-rise residential and public buildings that have finished remediation works to remove (ACM) cladding systems, an increase of six since December 2018.

Work has been done on 40 social sector residential buildings and 33 private sector buildings, of which seven are private residential blocks and 26 student accommodation.

The report points out that the remediation of buildings with ACM cladding systems unlikely to meet Building Regulations is a complex process and involves addressing any issues with the exterior cladding system and broader fire safety systems for each building.

The MHCLG points out that all of this work takes time and varies considerably depending on the building structure, extent of cladding, and existing fire safety systems. For many buildings this is a complex job involving major construction work which needs to be planned, consulted on and carried out carefully.