Grenfell Remembered

With the fast-approaching sixth anniversary of the fatal fire at London’s Grenfell Tower, it is appropriate to consider again the impact of this tragedy on the design and construction of high-rise apartment buildings and the remediation of existing multi-storey buildings.

Naturally, we think also of the 72 Grenfell victims and the continuing grief of survivors, families and friends.

As with many human tragedies, there is much to be learnt. In this case it is mostly about methods and materials, as highlighted in Dame Judith Hackitt’s report following a lengthy public enquiry. Her report was sharply critical of the industry’s failure to self-regulate – and its tendency to cut corners.

Grenfell has focused attention on the choice of external cladding materials for decorative, thermal or protective purposes. In fact, several thousand buildings nationwide were identified as having significant defects – and the new Building Safety Act should prevent future use of ‘dangerous’ products.

It has also underscored the importance of adequate evacuation and firefighting provisions in medium to high-rise buildings.

Government called for urgent remedial work on the many tower blocks clad with potentially dangerous materials and systems. It is an expensive process, challenging developers, social housing organisations and private owners. The general view is that ‘those responsible’ should bear the costs, but ‘they’ may be hard to find. In fairness, some 45 building firms have already pledged £5 billion to repair defective buildings.

It has also been noted that there is a nationwide shortage of skills for both installation and remediation of cladding and other defects in the existing UK stock of apartment buildings.

There has been progress, but it has been slow and there is still much work to be done. Regulatory changes since Grenfell mean that new residential buildings now embody much stricter safety measures – in terms of construction materials, design and escape provisions. This is evident in the amended Part B of the UK’s Building Regulations, which helps to ensure that a home is truly a safe haven.

But there is still a large stock of high-rise homes designed and built before amendments to the regulations came into force.

Some would argue that progress has been too slow, but at least there has been movement.

Whatever changes are achieved in the fabric of buildings, one thing that cannot be altered is the grief of survivors and bereaved relatives and friends of the victims. The Grenfell Foundation is a registered charity set up to provide independent support and advocacy for the former residents of Grenfell Tower and the bereaved families and dependents.

If you’d like to donate or find out more visit

Learn more

Visit the Grenfell Foundation today.

Visit website