Minister for London Greg Hands says quality of cladding under the spotlight

The investigation into last month’s fire at Grenfell Tower in west London will look at how the cladding was put on the building during its overhaul last year, according to minister for London Greg Hands.

He told Building: “How the cladding was attached to the tower block and the cladding used will be subject both of the criminal investigation and doubtless the public inquiry.”

Hands, who is also trade minister, added: “There are a large number of issues with Grenfell Tower way beyond the construction sector and as it happens the issue around cladding has turned out to be much more international than anybody would have expected.

“There have been all kinds of questions about the quality of cladding in countries way beyond the UK. There have been evacuations in Germany.”

Cladding panels have been cited as the cause of several fires overseas including Dubai and Australia.

The UK government has appointed an expert advisory panel on safety to examine whether building regulations need changing in the wake of the blaze.

It is chaired by the former London fire commissioner Sir Ken Knight and includes Peter Bonfield, chief executive of the BRE.

In January this year, Dubai introduced regulations covering the use of non-combustible cladding systems after suffering from a spate of fires in tall buildings that have been blamed on the use of cladding similar to those used on Grenfell Tower.

The Gulf state now only allows non-combustible materials to be used in cladding systems. It has also legislated for those cladding systems featuring combustible material on existing buildings to be replaced over time.

Meanwhile, Hands met London mayor Sadiq Khan for the first time in his new role.

Hands told Building he wants more public land to be released for housing. He added: “We are keenly interested in delivering more homes in London, it’s absolutely vital, [as is] making sure that London has got the infrastructure it needs to keep it the number one city.”