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Built Environment Professions back joined-up approach

Posted: 14th July 2017

The Built Environment Professions back a joined-up approach to respond to the Grenfell
Tower disaster

Working together within the CIC, the built environment professions have agreed to:

  • provide full support and a wide range of expertise to the Department for Communities and Local Government’s [DCLG] Independent Expert Advisory Panel;
  • be an active member of the Industry Response Group, established by Government, to review the solutions to ensure buildings are safe and the supply chain capability to cope with a rapid upsurge in remedial and refurbishment work that is likely to follow the Grenfell tragedy [see here];
  • develop a systemic review of the procurement, design, construction and management of housing and buildings in which people live, in order to provide practical solutions for improvement with particular regard to fire safety; and
  • consider the application of these solutions to other building types.

These recommendations came from a meeting of 50 representatives of 36 professional bodies in the built environment, held at the RICS, earlier this month, under the joint chairmanship of Professor John Nolan (Chairman of CIC) and Turlogh O’Brien CBE (a former Chairman of CIC, now Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Housing and recently appointed to Chair the CIC Expert Panel set up in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy).

The meeting began with a period of silence in memory of the victims of the fire.

Two members of the DCLG Independent Advisory Panel (Dr Peter Bonfield and Amanda Clack) came direct from a meeting of the Panel, earlier in the day, and asked that the CIC group acted as a platform for providing wider expert input to the panel. This was agreed.

Multi-disciplinary, expert groups will be established from amongst the professional bodies and other organisations of experts to contribute to a systemic review of the procurement, design, construction and management of housing and buildings in which people live, in order to provide practical solutions for improvement with particular regard to fire safety.

On behalf of the CIC, Professor Nolan opened the meeting by saying: "The built environment community - from designers to manufacturers, architects, engineers, contractors and landlords - were devastated by the loss of life that resulted from the Grenfell Tower disaster. Our thoughts remain with those who have lost loved ones and those who now find themselves facing the struggle to get settled into new homes and surroundings. It is incumbent upon all of us who are involved in procuring, designing, constructing, inspecting and managing housing and buildings to leave no stone unturned in addressing the issues, brought into such horrifying focus, by the Grenfell disaster; and to do so on the basis of evidence and research, but with appropriate speed.”

Mr O’Brien said: "Professionals from across the built environment community are ideally placed to provide practical and considered insight to the review. The built environment professions have agreed to work together to use their diverse skills, knowledge and experience to support the work of the public inquiry, together with legislators and regulators, as they work through what needs to be done to ensure higher standards of fire safety.”

The Chief Executive of CIC, Graham Watts, will oversee the co-ordination of the work, and he said: “Nothing we can do will ease the grief of the many victims of this tragedy and it is certainly not our role to speculate on the diverse causes of this horrific event. But, we can build on lots of sensible and useful work, already in the public domain, to help identify areas in which the industry and its various constituents can improve, and provide practical solutions of societal benefit."

The exact scope of the expert groups will be determined over the next fortnight. In addition to providing expert support to the DCLG’s Expert Panel and the Industry Response Group (alongside Build UK and the Construction Products Association), it is intended that the final report will be provided to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry team.

The CIC will extend the scope of the inquiry to cover other building types once the original work on buildings in which people live is complete.