Combustible cladding ban for Welsh high-rise residential buildings

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Following the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, policies related to cladding materials and building regulations for high-rise residential buildings have been the focus of some scrutiny. Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety published in 2018 provided a number of recommendations for significant changes relating to high-rise residential buildings and combustible cladding materials, some of which some have already been implemented across the property sector.

Reflecting similar measures introduced in England in December 2018, the new Building (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2019 (WSI 2019/1499) (the Regulations) will apply from 13 January 2020 to effectively ban the use of combustible cladding on high-rise buildings within Wales.

The Regulations will apply to all new residential buildings, including: flats, student accommodation, care homes and hospitals which are over 18 metres in height. The ban covers the entire height of the building, and will apply to the complete wall assembly and certain attachments of the external wall, including balconies and solar panels.

The ban will also apply to existing buildings where relevant building falls within the scope of the regulations, unless the building works have started on-site before, or an initial notice, building notice or full plans have been submitted and work has started on site within a period of 8 weeks of, the in-force date (13 January 2020).

The Welsh Government has indicated its intention to publish a White Paper in 2020 to give greater clarity on the long-term responsibilities of those who design, construct and manage buildings.  Walker Morris will monitor and report on key developments.