Indy – Modern Housebuilding Methods Unsafe Parliament Told


Pioneering new house-building methods and materials, such as timber frames, are causing concern among fire safety experts, a recent seminar held at the Houses of Parliament was told.

MPs were warned that many modern methods of construction, new forms of material and new engineered structures were not evaluated for how they can withstand fire in built properties.

Mike Wood, the vice-chairman of the Passive Fire Protection Federation, said: “Fire safety is too often seen as a constraint in design, limiting flexibility, adding cost and preventing the full expression of other cherished design niceties. One of the most dominant trends is to take short cuts in fire safety – to minimise, downgrade, perhaps eliminate – in the expectation that bad practice will not be detected and exposed.”

Wilf Butcher, the chief executive officer of the Association for Specialist Fire Protection, explained that new building methods need close attention due to the potential inherent dangers: “[The construction industry is] moving into wood frame construction, we are looking at modular off-site kitchens and bathrooms being effectively ‘podded’ into a building. We are looking at more fuel-efficient systems which can, in some quarters, be more flammable and toxic.”

Mr Butcher believes that the Government should also take a role over the issue: “The interaction of these new construction materials and systems, and how they relate to fire-safety measures, is an issue the industry and Government have to address over the next few years.”


One thought on “Indy – Modern Housebuilding Methods Unsafe Parliament Told

  1. Watch out for the fire-sale of NHS sites
    NHS land and buildings belong to us. Don’t let this Government get away with selling them to property developers then forcing the NHS to rent new privately-owned buildings!

    The Government plans to cut NHS spending by £22billion a year compared with 2015 levels. The main way it will do this is through closing local hospitals, GP surgeries and community buildings, selling these sites and replacing them with far fewer, larger hospitals and ‘community hub’ clinics – meaning long distances and travelling times for patients.

    The 2017 Naylor Report proposes selling up to £5.7billion-worth of NHS land and buildings. Property developers will handle sales – and share the receipts. NHS Trusts are being offered incentives to sell NHS land. Local government is enticed to grant planning permission through the promise of land for housing, and many local councils are jumping at the chance of easy land.

    As well as empty sites, the Government plans to sell ‘inefficiently used’ buildings. An arbitrary definition of ‘efficiency’, based on space allocated to clinical services, means facilities for patients and visitors or even extra wide corridors can be used to justify closure. Government says new and larger premises are needed for specialist services – but long journeys affect health, and most care can be delivered effectively -and much more conveniently – in local services.

    Once existing buildings have been sold off, property developers will build new hospitals and community hubs. This will saddle the NHS with decades-long extortionate payments for new buildings. Huge profits will be syphoned off by developers as in previous, exorbitantly expensive, PFI deals.

    New plans for local NHS buildings are being developed in secret by corporate consultants. There has been no meaningful public engagement in developing plans or consultation on proposed changes to services and sites.

    We demand
    • Meaningful engagement and full consultation with local clinicians and public in the development of local NHS and social care plans, including all proposals for site changes.
    • Plans must set out implications for changes to patient journeys, including travel options for patients throughout the area, and must take account of specific needs of vulnerable people, those with mobility impairments, young children etc.
    • Alternative use of unused sites by the NHS must be considered first, followed by potential use for other public services. Creation of local land-bank of publicly-owned sites.
    • No sale of any NHS land or buildings without full consultation and public consent.
    • Local authorities to oppose sell-offs that don’t comply with above, including through refusing planning permission

    What else you can do:
    • Join Keep Our NHS Public and campaign with a local group
    • Find out what’s happening locally about NHS sites
    • Write to your MP and local councillors, especially those responsible for health and social care, planning decisions and scrutiny committees, demanding action. Make sure they know your vote depends on their actions to save the NHS
    • Write to your local paper

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