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The Truth About the March 2024 Amendments to Approved Document B

Published 19th April 2024

In light of recent discussions surrounding the March 2024 update to Approved Document B, it's essential to address certain misconceptions that have arisen regarding the status of the National Classification System.

UKTC Shares the Truth About March 2024 Amendments to Approved Document B

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) commissioned a consultation in December 2022 seeking to amend certain aspects of Approved Document B (ADB)[1]. The consultation proposed 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.

On 29 March 2024, DLHUC published a response to the consultation that can be found here. Whilst the response has resulted in noteworthy changes to ADB relating to the means-of-escape provisions, there is no comment made on the removal of the National Classification System. Furthermore, DLHUC state that the response is a “partial response” and that a “further response to other parts of that consultation will be published in due course”. This underscores the need for further evaluation of the response and any statements suggesting definitive conclusions regarding the removal of the National Classification are premature.

Moreover, discussions surrounding the perceived superiority of BS 476-22 over EN testing methods warrant careful consideration. While advocates for the retention of BS 476-22 emphasize its historical use and perceived reliability, it's crucial to acknowledge the advancements made in testing methodologies and standards globally.

EN testing methods have been developed to align with evolving international standards and best practices in fire safety. Any decisions regarding the continuation of BS 476-22 should take into account not only its historical significance but also the potential benefits of adopting modern, internationally recognized testing standards.

In conclusion, while the updates to Approved Document B represent a significant step forward in enhancing fire safety regulations, it's imperative to approach discussions surrounding BS 476 Parts 20 and 22 with accuracy and diligence. The decision-making process is ongoing, and any assertions regarding its outcome should be tempered with an understanding of the complexities involved and the need for comprehensive evaluation.

[1] Please note ADB sets out statutory guidance on meeting certain requirements of the Building Regulations, relating to England only.


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