Draft Building Safety Bill published
Residents in high rise buildings are set to be given new rights. The new Building Safety Bill will allow residents access to safety information in relation to the building they live in and, more importantly, gives them the power to challenge the building owner if they are not acting in the best interests of the residents and the safety and integrity of the building.
This new Bill comes off the back of Dame Hackitt’s report into the Grenfell Tower fire and will make sure that those responsible for the safety of residents in high rise buildings are accountable for any issues or mistakes, with a new regulator to enforce the new rules and take action against offenders.
The Building Safety Regulator (BSR), which is already being set up within the Health & Safety Executive, will have three main functions:
- To oversee the safety and standard of all buildings
- Assure the safety of higher-risk buildings
- Improve the competence of those responsible for the managing and overseeing of building work
Crucially, this new BSR will be able to hold building owners to account for any issues or mistakes within their buildings.
What about the residents?
This new draft Bill will ensure there will always be someone responsible for resident’s safety in high rise buildings (this 18 metres and above). This new role is the ‘Accountable Person’, and they will have to listen and respond to residents’ concerns and make sure these concerns are heard by the appropriate people.
This Accountable Person will be overseen by the new Building Safety Regulator to make sure their duties are being carried out properly. The main benefit being high rise buildings and its residents are being kept safe and new powers will be available to raise and enforce higher standards of safety and performance. This new regulator will also appoint a panel of residents to give them a voice in the development of works.
The government views this new legislation as a framework that will evolve as more is learned about building safety with further restrictions on products and materials not requiring further legislation as the necessary powers will already be in place.
A consultation paper is being published by the Home Office that sets out proposals to implement the recommendations from Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry that require changes in law.
In addition to this new consultation paper, the Fire Safety Bill is making its way through parliamentary stages and will empower fire and rescue services to hold building owners responsible for non-compliances, with enforcement action available.
Robert Jenrick, Housing Secretary commented “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.”
Approval of these new measures also came from Dame Judith Hackitt, the author of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: “I welcome this draft bill as an important milestone in delivering the fundamental reform this industry needs to make residents and buildings safer. It meets the ambitions and recommendations set out in my review, and industry must be in no doubt that it is not enough to wait for the Bill to become law before they implement changes; we expect them to start taking action now.”
Director of HSE’s building safety and construction division, Peter Baker, also commented “The BSR [building safety regulator] 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.”
These are some of the biggest changes to building safety for close on 40 years – and as fire door contractors, we welcome them wholeheartedly!!