ICE-appointed Peter Hansford’s review will be separate from the DCLG’s industry response group
Former government chief construction advisor Professor Peter Hansford has been appointed by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) to lead an independent review of the lessons for infrastructure professionals from the Grenfell Tower fire.
Hansford, also a past president of the ICE, will aim to identify and address systemic issues highlighted by the tragedy, which may increase the fire risk to infrastructure assets.
Issues the review will look at include responsibility and accountability for safety at all stages of an asset’s life cycle, inspection and quality assurance regimes, and operational management, including refurbishment.
The ICE said the review will not duplicate the government enquiry into the specific failings at Grenfell or cover matters that are currently subject to a criminal investigation.
Hansford said: “The Grenfell Tower tragedy has quite rightly led to a period of deep reflection amongst civil engineers about what the failings at Grenfell highlight for practices across the construction sector. It is important that the profession moves quickly to capture and implement lessons as quickly as possible.”
Meanwhile, the DCLG has said the government will shortly announce whether it plans to carry out a review of the building regulations, post Grenfell.
A DCLG spokesperson said: “The Grenfell Tower fire and the subsequent cladding testing have raised questions about the building regulatory system, and how and why non-compliant cladding has been used. These issues need to be understood so we can make our tower blocks safe for those who live in them. We are looking at how best to do this and will make an announcement shortly about next steps.”
Barry Turner, director of technical policy at Local Authority Building Control, the organisation that represents all local authority building control departments in England and Wales, said the group had not heard anything official about a review.
“We would hope to be part of any working groups for the review and we haven’t been invited yet,” he said. “We would expect to be part of this as we have been involved in reviews [of the building regulations] for the last 10-15 years.”
Earlier this week, Andrew Wolstenholme, chair of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) said the construction industry needed to provide a “significant” response to building safety following the Grenfell fire.
Wolstenholme, Crossrail chief executive, welcomed the establishment of a post-Grenfell industry response group, comprising the Construction Industry Council (CIC), Build UK and the Construction Products Association (CPA), which was announced by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
“The scale of the response from the sector that is necessary to address the challenge of building safety is significant, and the industry will need to work together to deliver this,” he said.
Responsibilities of the response group include advising on building safety, ensuring government access to technical expertise from key specialist sectors, and helping mobilise the industry for a “major programme of construction works across the UK”, a statement from the CIC said.
The group is also backed by 36 professional bodies from the built environment, including the Chartered Institute of Building and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
Last week, RIBA executive director Adrian Dobson, at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for London’s Planning & Built Environment, said lessons must be learnt from the “catastrophic” Grenfell fire.
He urged the inquiry into the disaster to focus on procurement and the role of fire testing, including the reduction of the fire services’ function in the construction of similar blocks.
“There is no line of responsibility from initial design through to completion, no ‘clerk of works’ who in past times would oversee things,” Dobson said.