24 March 2020
Building Consultancy, Industry News
On 16th May 2018, Building a Safer Future, Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report, was published, setting out more than 50 recommendations for government as to how to deliver a more robust regulatory system.
On 20th January 2020, the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced measures to ensure building safety. Those measures include:
Building Safety Regulator
The building safety regulator will oversee the design and management of buildings, with a focus on ensuring the new regime for higher-risk buildings is enforced effectively and robustly. It will have the power to apply criminal sanctions to building owners who do not follow the regime.
“That’s why today I’m announcing a major package of reforms, including establishing the Building Safety Regulator within the Health and Safety Executive to oversee the new regime and publishing consolidated guidance for building owners.” Robert Jenrick 20/01/2020
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will begin to establish the new regulator I shadow form immediately, ahead of it being fully established.
At present there was no further information about what this new role would involve, or how many weeks establishment of the regulator would take.
Advice on building safety for multi-storey, multi-occupied buildings
The government appointed independent expert advisory panel (IEAP) has clarified and updated advice to building owners on actions they should take to ensure their buildings are safe, with a focus on their external wall systems. This simplifies the language, consolidates previous advice and makes clear that building owners need to do more. It reflects the view that ACM cladding (and other metal composites) with an unmodified polyethylene core should not be on residential buildings of any height and should be removed. It also makes clear the actions building owners should take in relation to fire doors.
The guidance documents can be found in the below link:
Building Safety Advice
Remediation of buildings with ACM cladding
The government will be appointing a construction expert to review ACM cladding remediation timescales and to identify what can be done to improve the response by the private sector.
Combustible cladding ban
The government has also launched a consultation into the combustible cladding ban, including proposals to lower the 18-metre height threshold to at least 11 metres. This is in response to the fire at The Cube, Bolton in 2019, a student accommodation block what was just under 18m high.
The government proposes lowering the height threshold for sprinkler requirements in new buildings and will set out detailed proposals on how they will deliver the technical review of fire guidance in February 2020.
Fire Safety Bill
The government has also set out details of the upcoming Fire Safety Bill. This will clarify the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, requiring residential building owners to fully consider and mitigate the risks of any external wall systems and front doors to individual flats. The changes will make enforcement action easier where building owners have not remediated unsafe ACM cladding by complementing the powers under the Housing Act.
With Grenfell tower inquiry phase 2 still under way. We will expect to see more announcements from the government, with one of the main possible changes being Building regulations.
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