The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has hit out at the slow pace of change to fire and building safety regulations in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.
With the exception of the ban on combustible cladding material – announced 15 months after the fire which killed 72 people – concrete action from the Government has amounted only to the announcement this week of a review of fire safety regulations and plans to appoint a standards committee on construction standards.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, housing secretary James Brokenshire undertook to implement in full the recommendations of the Hackitt Review.
However, neither measure has a date attached, and many are unhappy at how little of practical importance has yet been done.
“England is now lagging behind Wales and Scotland, who have in place or are introducing regulations to require sprinklers and provide a second means of escape,” warned Jane Duncan, chair of the expert advisory group on fire safety at RIBA.
“Until we see real reform of the procurement processes for construction projects, the pressure to cut costs will continue to incentivise the use of cheaper and ultimately riskier materials, reduction in accountability and a lack of competence and supervision.”
Furthermore, inquiry chair Sir Martin Moore-Bick has admitted that the second phase of the investigation into the causes of the fire will not begin until the end of 2019.
Survivors group Grenfell United also expressed scepticism about the Government’s plans for further reviews, warning against allowing the matter to be “kicked into the long grass”.
“We must be vigilant to ensure government and industry, that so badly failed us, do not water down these changes. Resident voices must be given weight and parliament must keep a watchful eye on progress,” a spokesperson said.