New measures to improve building safety standards announced

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Robert Jenrick, Housing Secretary has announced a series of new measures that will look at improving current building safety practices within the UK.

The new measures that have been described as going ‘further’ and ‘faster’ than any of its predecessors to ensure that residents are safe in their homes, comes as a welcome signal for improving safety and compliance across the social housing sector.

One of the major inclusions announced will see the implementation of a new regulator at the heart of the changes – the Building Safety Regulator. It will be established as part of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and will aim to provide effective oversight of the design, construction and occupation of high-risk buildings.

What other upcoming changes are expected?

Advice on building safety for multi-storey and multi-occupied buildings

The continual occurrence of high-rise fires including at a block of student flats in Bolton, and also at a tower block in Glasgow, have illustrated that many buildings still lack the necessary measures to ensure the safety of tenants.

To address this, the government has sought advice that has made clear that building owners need to do more to address safety issues on residential buildings under 18 metres. In addition to highlighting that aluminium composite material (ACM) with an unmodified polyethylene core should not be present on residential buildings of any height.

A call for evidence is now expected to be published, seeking views on the assessment of risks within existing buildings. The results of this will then be used to guide future decisions for existing buildings and regulatory regimes.

Fire doors

Fire Door AuditThe government has welcomed the commitment made by the Association of Composite Door Manufacturers to work with building owners to remediate their doors that have failed tests, and going forward has stated that it will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that the commitment is met.

Remediation of buildings with ACM cladding

From next month the government will begin to name building owners where remediation has not started to remove ACM from its buildings. To further speed up the process, the appointment of a construction expect will be brought in to review remediation timescales, and identify what more can be done to improve the removal across the private sector.

Furthermore, to make sure that cost is not a barrier to the remediation of ACM, the government is also examining options to reduce costs for individuals or to provide alternative financing routes.

Combustible cladding options

A consultation has now begun into the current combustible cladding ban, this includes new proposals to lower the 18 metre height threshold to 11 metres.

Sprinklers

Following the government’s consultation on sprinklers and other measures for new build flats, a proposal has been motioned for lowering the height threshold for sprinkler requirements in new buildings. In February proposals are expected to be published on how the government will deliver the technical review of fire guidance – we will keep you updated on this, so keep a look out for further information.

Fire Safety Bill

The upcoming Fire Safety Bill that is being introduced to parliament, has been designed to make enforcement easier where building owners have not remediated unsafe ACM by complementing the powers under the Housing Act.

The bill will also clarify the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – requiring residential building owners to fully consider and reduce the risks of any external wall systems and front doors to individual flats.

Seeking further information on the measures? We can help…

At Pennington Choices, we offer registered providers a range of advice and services to their housing and management issues. Having worked for over 19 years, delivering projects to social housing landlords nationally, we have significant consulting experience. For more information on how we can help your organisation, or to have a chat about the new safety measures, get in touch with our Head of Consultancy, Sarah Davies, by clicking here.

To read about the full safety measures click here.

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