Consultation on 'radical' building safety regulatory changes launched
The government has launched a consultation on its proposals for what it calls “a radically new building and fire safety system” in response to the findings of the Hackitt review.
In a 192-page document that builds on Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent review of Building Regulations and fire safety, and the government’s implementation plan, the government proposes that its new regulatory framework will apply to all multi-occupied residential buildings of 18m (six storeys) or more.
Promising “robust” reform, it sets out duties for those responsible for the whole life cycle of a building from design to demolition.
And it aims to place “much greater responsibility on those designing and constructing buildings to demonstrate how they are managing safety risks".
It sets out how it will create a “more stringent approach to accountability” over the life span of a building by defining five ‘dutyholder’ roles in the design and construction phase and one during the occupation and management phase.
For the design, build and refurbishment phases, the government has proposed that the five dutyholder roles align with the existing roles identified under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015: client, principal designer, principal contractor, designer and contractor.
The dutyholders will have “new, clear and robust requirements” to ensure building safety through compliance with the Building Regulations; planning, monitoring and managing building work so as to promote building safety.
The dutyholders will also be expected to demonstrate that they are competent and employ competent people, as well as producing a safety case demonstrating they are taking actions to reduce building safety risks “so far as is reasonably practicable”.
Meanwhile, there will also be a series of new “gateway points” where dutyholders will have to show how they are actively managing risk before they can proceed to the next stage of development.
The gateways are:
- Gateway 1: Before planning permission is granted. The applicant will have to submit a ‘fire statement’ with their planning application to ensure early consideration of fire safety.
- Gateway 2: Before construction begins. Dutyholders will have to demonstrate how they comply with Building Regulations by providing full plans and supporting documentation.
- Gateway 3: Before occupation begins. The dutyholders will have to hand over building safety information about the final, as built building before occupation is permitted. The client must, as a minimum, apply for and receive a provisional registration of the building and assure a new building safety regulator that building risks have been assessed and arrangements are in place for the building to be operated safely during occupation.
The document also sets out new details about the proposed creation of a new building safety regulator, which would have responsibility, at a national level, for oversight of the building safety and wider building regulatory system, and oversight of work to drive increased competence of professions and trades working on buildings.
And in a separate chapter, the proposals set out how the government plans to improve compliance and strengthen sanctions and enforcement within the new building safety regulatory system framework.
It sets out a three-step process for the building safety regulator to achieve this through:
- Reinforcement of operating standards and provision of professional guidance.
- Proactive intervention and monitoring, such as issuing stop notices or improvement notices.
- Enforcement action where the first two stages fail to achieve compliance. This may be through formal orders, penalties or by reviewing the building safety certificate which may lead to revocation.
The consultation opened today (6 June) and closes at the end of July. It is inviting comment on five areas of its proposals:
- The scope of the regime.
- The concept of dutyholders.
- Proposals to give residents a stronger voice in the system and a clear and quick routes of escalation if things do go wrong.
- Plans for the new building safety regulator.
- The proposed strengthening of enforcement and sanctions.
Housing secretary James Brokenshire said: "This consultation seeks views on our proposals for a radically new building and fire safety system which puts resident’s safety at its heart. These comprehensive changes will work in conjunction with other improvements we are making, such as those outlined in the Social Housing Green Paper and reforms in the leasehold and private rented sectors.
“We welcome views on these proposals and encourage residents, building owners, the construction industry and the fire sector to all make their voices heard. It is essential that we work together to restore confidence in the nation’s building safety system, so we can make residents safe, and feel safe, in their homes.”
To view the government’s full consultation document, click here.