Nearly three years after the devastating Grenfell Tower fire, the Government has published its proposals for what it calls “the biggest change in building safety for a generation”.
The proposals for a new building safety regime are set out in the Government’s response to the ‘Building a Safer Future’ consultation and are based on the acceptance of all 53 recommendations of Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, and in some cases may go further.
The Government is proposing to apply the new safety regime initially to all multi-occupied residential buildings of at least 18 metres, or more than six storeys (buildings “in scope”), but this can be extended to other premises.
The new Building Safety Regulator will have a duty to keep the scope of the regulatory system under review and to provide advice to government when the evidence suggests it should be extended.
The new regulatory structure will initially apply throughout the lifecycle of new builds, and later to the occupation stage of existing buildings. There will be a new duty-holder regime placing greater responsibility on those designing and constructing buildings to explain how they are managing risks and demonstrating that the building is safe to be occupied.
The Building Safety Regulator (the regulator) will be responsible for all major regulatory decisions made at key points during the design, construction, occupation and refurbishment of relevant buildings, drawing on the expertise and advice of other regulators and relevant experts, such as fire and rescue services, local authorities and the Health and Safety Executive.
Decisions will include whether to allow a building to be constructed and later occupied, and whether the Accountable Person has demonstrated that appropriate actions to mitigate and manage fire and structural risks are being taken. The regulator will have a duty to keep the scope of the system under review and provide advice to the government when it should be extended.
- Highlighting the move away from local control, the Building Safety Regulator will also carry out functions at national level, such as:
- Establishing a register of relevant buildings and other national systems
- Ensuring that residents’ complaints about safety issues are dealt with quickly and effectively
- Producing advice to help duty-holders discharge their responsibilities
- Advising on current and emerging safety risks in relevant buildings
- Hosting centres of excellence to strengthen enforcement, including specialist expertise to assist with prosecuting complex cases, and to develop best practice on engagement with residents.
The regulator will also have a wider role beyond buildings in scope and will carry out regulatory functions that will apply to all buildings. These include ensuring that designers and builders can access “cutting edge” advice on delivering safe, high-performing buildings; advising the Government on changes to the building regulations and Approved Documents; overseeing the performance of building control bodies; and advising on current and emerging risks to building safety and performance.
A new oversight structure staffed by a wide range of specialists from across the built environment will replace the current Building Regulations Advisory Committee.