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Consultation on 'radical' building safety regulatory changes launched

6 June 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

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.

Robust requirements

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:

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:

The consultation opened today (6 June) and closes at the end of July. It is inviting comment on five areas of its proposals:

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.

Comments

What is hmg's solution to a system so complex it is patenetly unfit for purpose? Why, add another layer of complexity, of course. The bulging cupboard of documents that is the building regulations, was once a single A5 handbook; simple to read and implement. When hmg's system can once more be contained in a hundred pages of A5 text we will know they are getting somewhere. Just because building regulations have been so abused to please the powerful as to be useless, doesn't mean the idea is wrong, but any new layer will just make matters worse. And residents - the ones who pose a risk to others by their behaviour - are only interested in their building after it goes wrong. If they survive.

UK legislation is littered with - possibly - well-meaning laws that have drifted into obscurity because they either don't have teeth or funding for regulatory inspection has been reduced to nothing. Finding a way of making sure the regulators keep their teeth with advancing years, are effectively supervised by elected bodies, and those bodies are kept up to the task by those who care, is a significant problem.

It is not an accident, in my view, that the past forty years have seen the strength and effectiveness of the building regulations diluted in direct proportion to their increase in verbosity.

owen jordan, 11 June 2019

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