Wales bans use of combustible cladding on all new high-rise buildings

The use of combustible cladding on the external walls of all new high-rise buildings in Wales has been banned from mid January 2020.

The ban applies to combustible cladding on all new residential buildings (flats, student accommodation and care homes) and hospitals over 18 metres in height. The ban covers the entire height of the building and will apply to the complete wall assembly and certain attachments to the external wall, including balconies and solar panels.

The ban will also apply to existing buildings where relevant building work is being carried out which falls within the scope of the Building Regulations, unless the building works have started on-site or an initial notice, building notice or full plans have been deposited and work has started on site within a period of eight weeks.

However, firefighters said the ban was not the outright ban on combustible cladding that they had been calling for. The Fire Brigades Union has been calling for such bans to apply to all buildings, not just those over 18 metres high, and for ban to be extended to the use of all flammable materials.

Welsh Housing Minister, Julie James said: “Our homes should be the safest of places. The action I have taken will help ensure we make people safer in their homes, and leaves no room for doubt as to what is suitable for use on external walls of relevant buildings 18m or more in height.

“In Wales, we have a proud track record of achieving high standards of fire safety. We have a record low number of dwelling fires, and in 2016, we became the first country in the world to make it compulsory for all new and converted homes to have sprinklers installed.

“But we know there is still much more we need to do to ensure that there is greater clarity across the life cycle of a building as to the roles and responsibilities of those designing, constructing and managing buildings. I intend to publish a White Paper in 2020 setting out the detail of my plans.”

By Patrick Mooney, Editor