On the 14 June 2017, the United Kingdom watched as Grenfell Tower caught a blaze in an incident that saw 72 people lose their lives. The horrific scenes that took place were a direct result of the serious failings of building and managing high-rise homes, and since then we have seen some positive steps by the industry and government, including actions to start the much needed removal of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding from some high risk blocks.
However, more change is needed to ensure the complete safety of tenants within their homes, and as a result the government are proposing the biggest improvement to building safety regulation and management for high risk buildings within the United Kingdom in nearly 40 years, through the draft Building Safety Bill.
But what is a draft Bill?
Essentially it is a Bill that is published to allow for consultation, debate and scrutiny, before it is introduced to Parliament and finalised.
How can we expect the draft Building Safety Bill to change the industry?
Accountability. This will be the biggest change to the sector, as the Bill will place emphasis on all those responsible for the safety of high risk buildings and their occupants to ensure that they keep residents safe at all times, and that for any mistakes they are held accountable and will be made to put them right.
A new Building Safety Regulator will also be formed as part of the Bill, and will be given powers to enforce the rules and take action against those that break them. The Regulator will also implement a new set of more stringent rules for high-rise properties, including how they are designed, constructed and occupied.
Increased levels of clarity for each of these three stages will be one of the biggest changes the Regulator will bring, as the aim will be to ensure that potential risks are identified and designed out or mitigated at key ‘gateway’ stages in the design and construction phase. This approach will strengthen the existing planning and building control processes, and place specific responsibilities on CDM dutyholders.
Along with increased levels of clarity and accountability, buildings that come under the new set of rules will need to be registered with the Building Safety Regulator and must have a Building Assurance Certificate before residents move in the building. Existing high risk buildings already occupied will also have to be registered.
A Safety Case Report will then need to be prepared and maintained by the accountable person for the property, and a Building Safety Manager appointed to ensure that risks are managed on a daily basis. Their role will include carrying out regular checks and assessments and taking action to resolve safety risks.
Whilst the Building Safety Regulator will act as the building control authority for work on higher risk buildings, they will also oversee and strengthen the framework for performance and competence for all building inspectors. New powers will also be granted to better regulate construction materials/products to ensure that they are safe to use.
The Bill also aims to empower residents by requiring the Building Safety Regulator to set up a panel of residents who live in high risk buildings and to consult with them when developing and issuing guidance relevant to their buildings. Building Safety Managers will also have to involve residents in making decisions about their building and ensure that they understand how they can help keep the building safe and are able to raise concerns.
What are the next steps to the draft Bill?
The draft Bill has now been published, and the government is now seeking views from parliamentarians, residents and individuals within the construction and property industries through the Parliamentary process of pre-legislative scrutiny during the autumn, before the Bill is introduced to Parliament.
Seeking further information on the draft Bill? We can help…
Whilst there may be some changes made before the draft Bill becomes law, we now have clarity about the government’s proposals and expectations on building safety in high risk buildings. It is therefore time for building owners and managers to start looking at what this means for you and planning what you need to do to get ready for the changes that are coming as you will have increased obligations across a number of areas.
At Pennington Choices, we offer registered providers and property owners a range of advice and services to their housing and management issues. Having worked for over 20 years, delivering projects to property providers and 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.Back to blog