The government has announced that the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire will consider the design, construction and refurbishment of the building, as well as the scope and adequacy of Building Regulations.
Martin Moore-Bick, the retired judge leading the inquiry, wrote to prime minister Theresa May on 10 August setting out his recommendations for the terms of reference for the inquiry, which Mrs May accepted today.
According to the AJ’s sister publication Construction News, Moore-Bick acknowledged the calls from among many for the inquiry to consider a broader examination of social housing policy, but rejected this.
He said there was ’an obvious need for my inquiry to complete its work as quickly as possible in order to identify defects in the design, construction (including refurbishment) and management of the building that may exist elsewhere and put at risk others who live and work in similar high-rise structures’.
To add in the broader terms of reference would ‘add significantly’ to the length of time needed to carry out its work, he added.
The consultation on the terms of reference received 554 responses, with approximately 50 per cent of respondents saying that the terms should cover questions around Building Regulations and related legislation.
In his summary of the responses, Moore-Bick said: ’A number of pieces of legislation were identified, including Building Regulations both nationally and locally, the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015, the Fire Safety Order 2005 and associated guidance, the Housing Act 2004, and product standards generally.’
In her response, May said: ’The terms of reference do not address some of the broader social issues that some people have called for the inquiry to consider.
’I understand your concern about the suitability of considering such broader issues in a judge-led inquiry and the urgent need for the inquiry to complete its work as soon as possible, so that essential lessons can be learnt.
’This mitigates against very broad terms of reference and I accept your reasons for focusing the inquiry in the way you have.
’Government has already announced independent reviews into Building Regulations and fire safety and these reviews will no doubt wish to keep you up to date with developments, which will be able to feed into the work of your inquiry.’
Grenfell Tower public inquiry terms of reference: In full
• The immediate cause or causes of the fire and the means by which it spread to the whole of the building.
• The design and construction of the building and the decisions relating to its modification, refurbishment and management.
• The scope and adequacy of Building Regulations, fire regulations and other legislation, guidance and industry practice relating to the design, construction, equipping and management of high-rise residential buildings.
• Whether such regulations, legislation, guidance and industry practice were complied with in the case of Grenfell Tower and the fire safety measures adopted in relation to it.
• The arrangements made by the local authority or other responsible bodies for receiving and acting upon information either obtained from local residents or available from other sources (including information derived from fires in other buildings) relating to the risk of fire at Grenfell Tower, and the action taken in response to such information.
• The fire prevention and fire safety measures in place at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017.
• The response of the London Fire Brigade to the fire.
• The response of central and local government in the days immediately following the fire.