Earlier this week, the draft Building Safety Bill (the Bill) was published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government for pre-legislative review.
Major reforms are signalled. Housing Secretary the Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP described the Bill as "a significant milestone on our journey to fundamentally improving building safety and delivering real change that will keep people safer in their homes".
As recommended by Dame Judith Hackitt in her Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, the draft Bill will introduce more stringent rules for all blocks of flats that are either 18 metres or more in height or more than six storeys tall.
The Bill is long and complex. Much of it stems directly from Dame Judith Hackitt's independent report following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
- Part 2 - covers the building safety regulator (BSR) and its functions in relation to buildings in England, also including definitions of 'building safety risk' and 'higher-risk buildings'. One of the functions of the BSR will be to implement a more stringent regime for higher-risk buildings.
- Part 3 - amends the Building Act 1984 in relation to England, to provide that the BSR is the building control authority in relation to higher-risk buildings and to require the BSR to establish and maintain registers of building control approvers and building inspectors.
- Part 4 - covers occupied higher-risk buildings and imposes duties on accountable persons and building safety managers.
- Part 5 - contains supplementary and general provisions, including the requirement for a new homes ombudsman scheme to be established, powers to make provision about construction products and the regulation of architects.
The Government has published more information here. The Bill will now be considered by a Parliamentary committee who will feed back and give recommendations. Additionally, the Government will consult with key stakeholders, including industry and residents, before finalisation of the provisions of the Bill.
Concurrently, the Home Office has commenced a further consultation that seeks views on proposals to:
- strengthen the Fire Safety Order;
- implement the recommendations of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry; and
- strengthen the regulatory framework for how building control bodies consult with Fire and Rescue Authorities.
This consultation closes on 12 October 2020.
We will keep you updated on the progress of the Bill.
If you have queries on the Bill or any construction issue, please contact Sue Ryan.