Height threshold to be lowered as housing secretary spells out more details on building safety regulator

The government has announced plans to lower the height limit for its combustible cladding ban as it unveils details of its new building safety regulator.

Robert Jenrick, housing secretary

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick (pictured) told the House of Commons he would not tolerate the “slow pace of improving building safety standards” and announced measures which he claimed “go further and faster to ensure residents are safe in their homes”.

The government will consider lowering the height threshold for combustible materials from the current 18m to “to at least 11m”, Jenrick added.

Ministers have been under pressure to speed up work to replace dangerous cladding material on residential tower blocks across the country in the wake of the Grenfell fire two years ago.

The second phase of the inquiry into the fire, which killed 72 residents, begins next week.

Jenrick said that to give what he called “effective oversight of the design, construction and occupation of high-risk buildings” the new regulator will be established with immediate effect and be at the heart of a new regime and as part of the Health and Safety Executive.

The minister also warned that from next month the government would start naming and shaming building owners who failed to make their properties safe by removing and replacing unsafe aluminium composite material cladding.

A “construction expert” – who the government did not name – would be appointed to review the pace of remediation of potentially dangerous buildings in the private residential sector to see what could be done to speed up work.

Jenrick added that he would consult on extending the ban on combustible materials to buildings below 18m high and would seek views on risk assessments for existing buildings to steer policy in the future. It was also considering lowering the height threshold from 18m to 11m, Jenrick said.

He also said that the government would be naming and shaming owners of apartment blocks who refuse to remove dangerous combustible cladding from next month.

Speaking to MPs, the housing secretary said he was committed to bringing about what he labelled “the biggest change in building safety for a generation”.

Jenrick said progress on improving building safety “needs to move significantly faster to ensure people are safe in their homes and building owners are held to account”.

The government said it planned to spell out next month how it would deliver the technical review of fire guidance, particularly regarding sprinklers in new buildings.