The Queen's Speech sets out what's next for building safety reforms

14 October 2019

Our article, back in December 2018, "The Ban on combustible Materials in the External Wall of Buildings - what you need to know" identified that since the publishing of the Hackitt Interim Report in December 2017 and the Final Report in May 2018, the Government has been under increasing pressure to revise building regulations post-Grenfell.



Building safety reforms recommended by the Hackitt Report have been included in the Queen's Speech today. The Queen told Parliament that:

"My Ministers will…bring forward laws to implement new building safety standards".

This will take forward government proposals in June 2019 that planned the creation of a new independent building safety regulator.

What is the purpose of the legislation?

The background briefing to the Queen's Speech reaffirms the consensus that there needs to be greater accountability and responsibility for building safety. Post-Grenfell, fundamental changes in the regulatory framework for high-rise residential buildings will be required to take forward all 53 of the recommendations from the Hackitt Report.

However, the background briefing explains that the legislation is also expected to go further:

  • "Providing clearer accountability for, and stronger duties on, those responsible for the safety of high-rise buildings throughout the building's design, construction and occupation, with clear competence requirements to ensure high standards are upheld.
  • Giving residents a stronger voice in the system, ensuring their concerns are never ignored and they fully understand how they can contribute to maintaining safety in their buildings.
  • Strengthening enforcement and sanctions to deter non-compliance with the new regime in order to hold the right people to account when mistakes are made and ensure they are not repeated.
  • Developing a new stronger and clearer framework to provide national oversight of construction products, to ensure all products meet high performance standards".

Who will this apply to?

The proposed new framework would mainly apply to England, however it is intended that the legislation will ensure that the management of construction products would have UK-wide coverage.

Whilst a full assessment is required, the Government has estimated that the new building safety regime could affect up to 11,000 high rise buildings which could rise to 15,000 buildings in the next 10 years or so.

Conclusion

Today's speech confirms that, post-Grenfell, building safety remains one of the key issues at the top of the Government's agenda. The framework should provide greater public confidence in high-rise residential buildings and bring about a clearer understanding of the scope of duties and level of accountability for developers, contractors, designers and building owners.

However, the Government does not have a majority in parliament, which could mean that the Bill is voted down. Watch this space.


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