London Assembly warns of 'crisis' over timber flats
A London Assembly report has urged the government to tighten regulations on timber-framed buildings after several major fires in the city.
Blazes in Croydon and Peckham, in 2007 and 2009, caused severe damage to blocks of flats with wooden frames.
The report said there was a "crisis of confidence" in the construction method.
The UK Timber Frame Association (UKTFA) said the report "confused the issue of timber-framed building fires with tall-building fires".
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said further regulation was "not an appropriate approach at this time".
Timber-framed buildings were banned after the Great Fire of London.
They were permitted again after a test on a mocked-up wooden-framed house in 1999 showed a fire could be contained.
But the assembly has warned there is now a "significant level" of concern within the industry, because of several fires since then.
"This is an issue that cannot wait," said Nicky Gavron, who chaired the committee which assessed the issue.
"There is a crisis of confidence about the safety of tall and timber-framed buildings, and the government and construction industry must act now to tighten regulations and reduce fire risk.
"As we construct at higher densities and with more environmentally-friendly materials, we will see more tall and timber-framed buildings.
"It is therefore vital to current and future residents that we get fire safety absolutely right," he said.
Geoff Arnold, chairman of the UKTFA, said the report "dispels many of the industry myths surrounding the safety of timber-frame buildings post-completion".
But he added: "Where the report has limitations is that it further confuses the issue of timber-frame building fires with tall-building fires - they are not the same thing - and it's important to note that the Lakanal House fire was in a concrete structure and not timber frame."
Six people died when flames took hold of Lakanal House in Southwark, south London.
The safety of the high-rise block has since been called into question.
The DCLG said: "We have been looking at these issues with the fire and rescue service, the industry and the Health and Safety Executive.
"We continue to look at what steps can be taken, within the sector, to improve standards and which would be more effective than simply regulating."