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A draft Building Safety Bill has been published as reforms to building and fire safety as a result of the June 2017 Grenfell Tower fire in west London (pictured). A Building Safety Regulator, already being set up within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), will be set up.
Rules will apply for buildings of 18 metres or more or taller than six storeys from the design phase to occupation. That threshold for buildings to be subject to these rules will be kept under review in case it needs to be adapted, the Government says, to cover more buildings.
The regulator will have three main functions: to oversee the safety and standard of all buildings; assure the safety of higher-risk buildings; and improve the competence of people responsible for managing and overseeing building work.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “This is a significant milestone on our journey to fundamentally improving building safety and delivering real change that will keep people safer in their homes. I remain committed to making sure we get this right, which is why I will be publishing the draft Bill for scrutiny and improvement before it is introduced in Parliament.
“I am also calling on the industry to actively prepare for these changes now. It is vital that the sector moves in step with us, to provide confidence and reassurance to residents that their safety is firmly at the heart of everything we do.”
The Government will also publish a new Manual to the Building Regulations to hold all Approved Documents in one place. For more on the draft Bill visit gov.uk.
HSE will lead the government’s Joint Regulators Group (JRG), which will coordinate with local authority and fire and rescue regulators during the transition to the new regulatory regime. The JRG will be chaired by Peter Baker, Director of the Building Safety and Construction Division of HSE. He said: ““The BSR will create a new era for building safety, working with wider government, local regulators, industry and residents we want to ensure that a tragedy like Grenfell Tower never happens again.
“Through appropriate use of its enforcement powers under the new regulatory framework, the BSR will ensure that building safety risks are being properly managed and controlled throughout the lifecycle of a building. It will also hold those with legal duties to account for significant failures.”
Hearings have resumed in the Grenfell Tower inquiry.
For the architects’ institute RIBA Fire Safety Group Chair, Jane Duncan, said: “This draft legislation makes some positive changes, outlining the functions of the new Building Safety Regulator (BSR), amending the Building Act 1984 and giving the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) much needed power to improve Building Standards.
However, it’s disappointing that the scope of the new regulatory system has not been widened to apply to other high-risk non-residential buildings at any height – fire does not discriminate. Over three years on, there is still no commitment to review all relevant technical guidance documents, or clear outline of responsibilities for duty holders who work on the design, construction and maintenance of buildings, which is particularly crucial given the proposed responsibility for competency for the Architects Registration Board (ARB).
“The government has a once in a generation opportunity to overhaul the UK’s building regulations to ensure buildings and people are safe – and it must get it right.”
Some building control sector bodies have come together in the ‘Future of building control working group’.