The Building Safety Bill was introduced to the House of Commons yesterday (Monday 5th July 2021) and will now finally start its passage through parliament. There is still a way to go until it reaches the final stages of Royal Assent and though a timeframe has not been set, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government have stated that “as a large and complex Bill we do not expect passage to take less than 9 months.”
Once it does pass, there are a few notable changes that will come into place within the first year including changes to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the establishing of the Residents’ Panel within the Building Safety Regulator. You can find out about some of the other key changes here.
About the Building Safety Bill: Why is it Needed?
Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, published in May 2018 in response to the Grenfell Tower Tragedy in June 2017, found that the regulatory system for high-rise and complex buildings was not fit for purpose and leaves too much room for “poor practice, poor culture, poor accountability and poor management.”
The Hackitt Review therefore outlined crucial changes that will need to be implemented in order to make high-rise high-risk residential buildings safe.
The Government has committed to implementing this through legislative changes including measures laid out in the Building Safety Bill and the Fire Safety Act 2021; the latter of which received Royal Assent in April this year.
The Building Safety Bill aims to Amend the Building Safety Act 1984 and the design, construction and occupation requirements of the Bill apply to high-rise residential buildings, of at least 18 metres or 7 storeys; often referred to as ‘buildings in scope’.
The Bill will create “lasting generational change” in how residential buildings should be constructed and maintained and will ensure that buildings requiring remediation are brought to an acceptable standard of safety. Some of the ways in which this will be done include:
- A ‘Safety Case’ regime which will be overseen by the Building Safety Regulator.
- The Golden Thread of Information – creating and maintain documentation for a building throughout its life cycle.
- Clearer accountability/ responsibilities for Dutyholders through design, construction and refurbishment.
- New duties on residents to ensure each other’s safety.
- New duties on Accountable Person (AP) to manage risks in occupied high-rise buildings.
The Building Safety Regulator at the Heart of the Regime
At the heart of the new regime is the creation of the Building Safety Regulator in England. The Building Safety Regulator will be from within the Health and Safety Executive and will serve three main functions, which are:
- Overseeing the safety and performance system for all buildings. This will include advising Ministers on changes to building regulations, using data and research to identify emerging risks and managing the performance of building control bodies who inspect building work;
- Assisting and encouraging the improvement of competence in the built environment industry and amongst building control professionals; and
- Leading implementation of the new, more stringent regulatory regime for higher-risk buildings.
Furthermore, the Building Safety Regulator will have a duty to maintain and establish 3 specific committees; the Residents’ Panel, the Building Advisory Committee, and Industry Competence Committee.
The Building Safety Regulator is already operating in shadow form and is expected to be operating at full capacity within 12-18 months from the Bill receiving Royal Assent; with the Resident’s Panel being launched prior to this.
Please not that this is just a brief summary of the recent updates and expectations of what’s to come. You can find further information here.
If you would like any further advice or guidance from our team, please get in touch.