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    RIBA CONDEMNS RISKIER PROCUREMENT OUTCOMES

    Holistic focus on safety is required and not just cost cutting

    The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has responded to the government  building safety update and implementation plan (released December 2018) following the two reports undertaken after the Grenfell Tower tragedy over 18 months ago.

    Immediate Past President of RIBA and Chair of the RIBA’s Expert Advisory Group on Fire Safety, Jane Duncan said (18/12/2018):

    “The update contains some welcome proposals. We are pleased to see that the government will require proper testing of fire safety products rather than relying on desktop studies and that they are planning substantial and comprehensive reform to the regulatory and accountability framework.

    But the news is long-overdue and with the exception of combustible cladding, the building regulations remain the same as they did when the Grenfell Tower tragedy took place, over 18 months ago. England is now lagging behind Wales and Scotland, who have in place or are introducing regulations to require sprinklers, and in Scotland provide a second means of escape – two recommendations the RIBA has consistently called for to provide clarity for the industry and protection for the public.

    Furthermore, until we see real reform of how construction projects are procured, the pressure to cut costs will continue to incentivise the use of cheaper and ultimately riskier materials and approaches. The government must urgently reform the inspection process, but in the long-term we need to see a holistic focus on safety, not just cost cutting.

    The next large scale fire may not happen in a tower block – it’s vital that the government do not neglect other high risk buildings like care homes, hospitals and schools.”

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