The Greater Manchester Combined Authority has outlined a series of recommendations on fire safety in buildings, including banning flammable cladding, in its evidence to the Government’s review into the Grenfell Tower fire.
GMCA’s High Rise Taskforce, set up by Mayor Andy Burnham and led by Salford Mayor Paul Dennett, has recommended that planning processes be changed to give local fire and rescue services statutory consultee status for certain types of development, including large-scale projects.
The GMCA said this would allow issues which can affect firefighters’ ability to tackle fires, such as layout and water pressure, to be addressed early on in the design and construction process.
Other recommendations submitted by the GMCA include a review of building regulations to reflect modern building methods; a feasibility study into retrofitting sprinkler systems in high-rise buildings and residential developments; and a major review into the competency of people who are designated “responsible persons” under fire safety legislation.
The Government launched its review into fire safety in August this year, following the Grenfell Tower fire in June.
The fire has led to a large-scale review and testing of cladding by local authorities, housing associations, and public bodies, some of which have removed cladding from buildings as a result.
Greater Manchester has seen a number of housing associations remove cladding from its buildings, including Salix Homes, City South Manchester Housing Trust, One Manchester, and City West Housing Trust.
One Manchester has appointed Wates Living Space to replace the cladding on 13 of its towers in Hulme and East Manchester, while City South Manchester Housing Trust is to remove cladding from 16 of its 17 blocks in Gorton, Hulme, Longsight, Levenshulme, and Rusholme.
Salix started to strip cladding from eight of its residential towers in Salford, but later stopped the removal after claiming Government advice on replacements was “unclear”.
City West Housing Trust had found seven of its 12 towers to be non-compliant with the Government’s test criteria and began to strip cladding, but again said it would halt the process until there was “clearer guidance on the kinds of panels we can use as a replacement”.
Dennett said: “Greater Manchester has taken swift and robust action to address fire safety issues following the Grenfell Tower fire. Specialist fire officers have inspected all residential high rises in Greater Manchester and are working with housing providers and building owners to reassure residents.
“But while this work will continue locally, steps need to be made at a national level to ensure a tragedy like this can never happen again. That’s why we’re demanding radical changes to legislation and regulatory guidance that will put fire safety firmly at the centre of building planning, design and construction – placing the safety and welfare of Greater Manchester residents at the heart of any new system.”