Government proposes installing sprinklers in new flats six storeys or higher in wake of Grenfell fire

Credit: PA

New blocks of flats of six storeys or higher could require sprinkler systems under new Government plans in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick outlined plans to improve safety regulations after the fire in the high-rise block in June 2017, which resulted in the deaths of 72 people.

Under current guidelines, sprinkler systems are required for buildings of 30 metres (98ft) - approximately 10 floors - or higher, but ministers will decide whether to decrease this to 18 metres (59ft) - approximately six floors.

The Government said it also has plans to "name and shame" businesses and landlords that do not co-operate with new post-Grenfell building safety rules.

The proposed regulations are being brought in after the Grenfell Tower fire. Credit: PA

Mr Jenrick told MPs "inaction will have consequences" in terms of "the remediation of dangerous ACM (aluminium composite material) cladding on buildings where it poses a clear risk".

ACM cladding was used on the side of the Grenfell Tower block.

Mr Jenrick said the Government has made £600 million available for the removal of flammable cladding from residential buildings, which was extended to those in the private sector in May, with applications opening on September 12 for the funding.

He added: "I will name and shame those individuals and businesses if I see inaction during the course of the autumn.

"If we reach the end of the autumn and building owners have not responded and do not have exceptional reasons for this, I will take whatever steps and sanctions are necessary."

Cladding is removed from a high rise in Greater Manchester in the wake of the Grenfell fire. Credit: PA

Shadow housing secretary John Healey asked why 324 blocks "still have dangerous cladding, and 72 blocks have no plans in place for cladding removal".

He continued: "At every stage this has been a Government too slow to grasp the problems, too little too late, much like this statement.

"This is a Government that needs to act."

Mr Jenrick said the Government will consult on any changes to fire safety regulations which could see sprinklers being mandatory on all new blocks of flats over 18 metres.

He added: "I'm open to hearing evidence for other relevant thresholds and I will be led by the evidence wherever that takes us."

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick outline safety regulations to introduce sprinkler systems in more high-rise buildings. Credit: PA

Mr Healey added: "We welcome the consultation on sprinklers, but will he go a step further so we can retrofit all social high-rise building blocks?"

Better signage and evacuation plans will also be within the scope of the review and the Government will work with fire brigades to collect evidence.

The Housing Secretary said a new building safety regulator was needed and the Health and Safety Executive would be tasked with setting up a "shadow regulator" while the new body is set up.

A new protection board - working with the Home Office and National Fire Chiefs Council - will also be established, aimed at speeding up building inspections.

Mr Jenrick said an extra £4 million will be made available to local authorities to help, with another £10 million annually for councils to help with the work.

He also said all high-rise buildings will have been inspected "no later than 2021".