Fears that new London buildings are being designed to avoid fire safety rules

November 22, 2021

London Fire Brigade has voiced concerns that new properties in the capital are being designed to avoid post-Grenfell fire safety rules.

Deputy Commissioner Paul Jennings said there are “hundreds, if not thousands” of new buildings which may be “deliberately” designed to avoid rules.

They include blocks designed to be lower than the 18 m (59 ft.) limit to be considered a higher-risk high-rise building.

The building safety minister branded efforts to “cut corners” as “shocking”.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight recently, Mr. Jennings, said: “We have got examples where we think people are deliberately designing and building their buildings below that 18-metre, six-floor threshold, because they know if they reach that threshold, they would have to put advanced and more intricate fire safety measures in.”

Mr. Jennings described these new buildings in the capital as examples of “gaming the system”.

“We are seeing around 60% of the building consultations that come into the fire engineering team and others are ones where we are going backwards,” he said.

The Housebuilders Federation, which represents housing developers, told Newsnight: “Developers meet the building regulations set by Government without exception”.

Recently, London Fire Brigade said all but three of the recommendations made by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry will be in place by 2022.

Last Monday, Michael Gove told the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee: “We collectively – the department, some in local government, others in the private sector – failed people at Grenfell and there are people who were and still are in buildings where there is a significant risk.”

 

This is valid as of 22nd November 2021.

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