Increased costs down to expected changes in cladding and sprinkler systems

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Worries are growing over how much the upcoming Hackitt report into building regulations and fire safety will add to the cost of residential towers.

The independent review by Dame Judith Hackitt was commissioned last July following the Grenfell fire a month earlier which claimed 71 lives.

Some are predicting that regulation changes on cladding systems, sprinklers and means of escape could add up to 20% to a building’s cost.

Richard Steer, chairman of consultant Gleeds, said: “It’s not just private developers but housing associations that will have to spend more on high-rise. Social housing costs could increase significantly.”

Design for Homes chief executive David Birkbeck warned regional cities might not be able to bear the impact of such cost hikes: “In London these costs might be able to be absorbed, but what if you’re trying to get high-rise schemes off the ground in Newcastle or Leeds – are you really going to be able to do it?”

The expected cost increases are giving rise to predictions that tall towers could be on the wane. Simon Bayliss, managing partner of housing architect HTA, said: “You can possibly see a move to medium-rise development driven by viability.”

Hackitt’s full report is due out in the spring.