Published 25 January 2023
The UK government's Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities (DLUHC) has launched a consultation seeking to amend certain aspects of Approved Document B (ADB)* of the Building Regulations.
The consultation proposes that sprinklers be fitted in new care homes regardless of building height, removing the national classification system for construction products and requiring them to be tested to the British Standard version of the European Standard, and introducing a threshold that residential buildings over 30 meters in height should have two staircases. The consultation also calls for evidence on revisions to paragraphs 10.6 and 10.7 of ADB, which cover materials and products used in the construction of external walls.
One of the more contentious proposals within the consultation is to remove the national classification system for construction products, specifically the British Standard 476 series, and replace it with Euroclass fire standards. This move was prompted by concerns raised during the Grenfell Tower Inquiry that the current system has potential flaws and lacks robustness. However, has been the general direction of travel for two decades now. The Euroclass standards have wider recognition and are deemed to be more robust.
Andrew Hutchison, Head of Technical Services at UKTC, said:
"The proposal has significant technical, commercial and political consequences, as it could see the withdrawal of 15 British Standards".
Manufacturers may conclude that this shift away from BS 476 could shorten the lifespan of their current evidence. As a result, manufacturers may be inclined to re-evaluate their testing strategy and consider transitioning to the European test standards to align with their future sales objectives. Planning for this transition now could minimise disruptions in product availability.
United Kingdom Testing and Certification is accredited to a whole portfolio of relevant European test methods in addition to the BS 476 series and will continue to offer these services regardless of the outcome of the consultation.
The consultation will end on 17 March 2023. Individuals and organisations are encouraged to respond by completing an online survey, which can be found here.
*Please note ADB sets out statutory guidance on meeting certain requirements of the Building Regulations, relating to England only.