Big Changes to Building Safety ahead as the Government publishes Building Safety Bill
The new measures outlined in the draft bill represent the “biggest changes to building safety for nearly 40 years” and are ultimately intended to help “people feel safer in their homes.”
3 years on from Grenfell
The Grenfell Tower fire that broke out in West London on 14 June 2017 claimed 72 lives; a national tragedy that represented the biggest loss of life in a residential fire since WWII.
This tragic event exposed serious and systemic failings in fire safety, particularly in high-rise homes in urban areas.
A subsequent independent review conducted by Dame Judith Hackitt, concluded that the whole system needed full-scale reform and that residents’ safety must always be the priority – from the initial design phase, through to construction and occupation.
Building Safety Bill
This week, the government published its draft Building Safety Bill, which has been formed in conjunction with residents through engagement groups, sets out how the Government will improve building and fire safety.
Amongst the measures set out by the draft bill are:
- People living in high rise buildings will be empowered to challenge inaction from their building owner
- Residents will have better access to safety information about their building.
- A new Building Safety Regulator will be given powers to hold building owners accountable for safety
- A ‘building safety charge’ will give leaseholders greater transparency around costs incurred in maintaining a safe building
- Building inspectors responsible for signing-off buildings as fit for habitation, will have to follow new rules and must register with the Building Safety Regulator.
- Up to two years in prison and unlimited fines for breaches of building regulations.
Building Safety Regulator
The Building Safety Regulator will be in effect the building control authority for all work on high risk buildings and will operate a unified regulatory structure for all building control bodies.
This addresses the complaint that local authority building control and approved inspectors were subject to different professional standards.
Developers will no longer be able to appoint their own building control body, instead the Building Standards Regulator will appoint a registered building inspector to help enforce building regulations.
Dame Judith Hackitt said:
“I welcome this draft bill as an important milestone in delivering the fundamental reform this industry needs to make residents and buildings safer. It meets the ambitions and recommendations set out in my review,” (The Construction Index)
“The industry is now on notice that the race to the bottom, the fragmentation, the passing on of responsibility to others has to stop.”
“We all understand that businesses will need to work hard to survive in these challenging economic times but the safety of residents must become core to building new and maintaining existing properties.”
As this is a “draft” Building Safety Bill, all aspects are still open to debate and amendment before it is presented to the House of Commons or House of Lords and ultimately enshrined in UK law.
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