In the aftermath of the tragic events at Grenfell Tower, owners and managers of residential tower blocks need to urgently carry out fire safety checks to ensure that appropriate safety and response measures are in place. The press have focussed on other Local Authority or Housing Association blocks where action is needed. It is a credit to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors that attention is being paid to privately owned blocks of flats. Following the relaxation of planning controls, numerous office buildings have been converted to flats. This has involved face lifts, involving aesthetic cladding to the elevations. Other purpose-built blocks may also need attention.

In particular, it is important to identify whether any high-rise buildings incorporate panels of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM). To this end, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is disseminating information on the checks that can be made, and the support it can provide. The details are provided in a letter from Melanie Dawes (Permanent Secretary, DCLG).

The main points are as follows:
  • In addition to the checks on residential blocks owned by social landlords, DCLG is offering private owners of residential buildings an opportunity to test cladding on blocks over 18 metres high through arrangements put in place with BRE.
  • These checks will be paid for by DCLG, and the information will be available to DCLG from BRE.
  • Where owners consider they may have concerns about cladding on buildings over 18 metres high, they should follow the process defined in the letter available for download.

For download links and a copy of the letter from DCLG see the RICS News Item Grenfell Tower: Checks on privately owned residential blocks (DCLG)