Newsnight has obtained confidential reports that help explain how flammable material has become more common on tall buildings.
Combustible cladding has been permitted based on reports arguing fires involving combustible aluminium panels would behave similarly to ones with non-combustible ceramic tiles.
Developers use them to persuade inspectors to sign off buildings.
Exova, the company that produced the reports, refused to comment.
The company, also known as Exova Warringtonfire, is a fire testing and engineering company.
It has previously cited client confidentiality in refusing to comment and has not responded to requests since Newsnight obtained copies of the reports relating to two buildings late on Friday afternoon.
Additional local information:
Compare this with the recent Sheffield council announcements / denials
From: Taylor Andrew <Andrew.Taylor@sheffield.gov.uk>
I refer to your emails of 27 September and 3 October 2012 to building control regarding the cladding on the Hanover/Lansdowne properties and respond as follows:
I can confirm we have a building regulation application (09/00927) for the refurbishment works being carried out at the Hanover and Landsdowne estates. The application has been checked for building regulations compliance and a conditional approval issued on the 22 September 2010. Does that mean conditional approval for the planning application or does ‘provisional’ refer to perhaps the materials being used?
The building regulation application approved on 22 September 2010 contained only one condition. This condition related to the associated electrical works which will be supervised under a competent person scheme. All details relating to materials were submitted and approved as part of the application.
The works on site have been checked as part of our inspection regime and we are unaware of any building regulation contraventions with the cladding systems or otherwise.
Who is the independent inspector in charge of this?
The work is being inspected by the councils building control service. This service provides an independent check to ensure compliance with the building regulations. For more information about the service please see: https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/planning-and-city-development.html
What is your inspection regime and who has authorised this?
The inspection regime is agreed for each application when deposited and varies dependant on the work being undertaken. Following notification of the commencement of works the actual inspection regime agreed for this scheme is to visit the site on a regular basis at approximately two week intervals and as required in response to inspection visit requests from the contractor.
Who from your team has been inspecting this scheme?
The works are being inspected by two surveyors from the building control service.
How often have they checked to date?
The works have been visited on the basis as described above.
Could you explain to me how a hybrid scheme of approved products being erected in a non approved manner, using category 3 High fire risk products are approved to replace a masonry wall. Who approved this and under what building reg is this acceptable? Please quote me the regulation applicable to this. Please provide all accreditation documents.
The materials used for the cladding panels have been assess and approved as being in compliance with the building regulations with the incorporation of timber panelling/framework. The building regulations require that building work complies with the regulations and, in relation to materials used, that the products are appropriate and fixed so as to adequately perform the function for which they are designed.
The building regulations are “functional” requirements. This means that there are no specified methods of conformity and designers may adopt various approaches to compliance. The regulations and accompanying approved documents are publicly available at www.planningportal.gov.uk/ . The functional requirement applicable in relation to the cladding panels are:
B2 internal fire spread (linings); the panels have an internal plasterboard finish and satisfy the building regulations by providing a class 1 surface.
B3 Internal fire spread (structure); the panels are contained within wall and floor/roof structures and satisfy this requirement. The use of timber within the framework is acceptable.
B4 External fire spread; the cladding had a B2 rating which is “normal combustibility”. The rendering has an A1 rating which is “non-combustible”. There is however no requirement to meet any standard for the surface due to the walls being well separated from boundaries.
I trust that this answers your queries.
If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your request and wish to make a complaint, you should write to Mrs Susan Millington, Head of Strategy, Floor 4 Howden House, Union Street, Sheffield S1 2SH.
If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted our complaints procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.
Building Control Manager