The Government has published its response to last year’s ‘Building a Safer Future’ consultation.
Bill Dunkerley

The publication outlines the Government’s response to the consultation and details how the reforms are to be delivered. The Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP has described the reforms as, “bringing about the biggest change in building safety for a generation.” The proposals build on the recent Budget announcement of a £1B fund to support the remediation of unsafe non-ACM cladding materials on high-rise buildings.

Of note, the Government’s response:

– Mandates the inclusion of sprinkler systems and consistent wayfinding signage in all new high-rise residential buildings over 11m in height;
– Provides practical details as to the formation and delivery of the new Building Safety Regulator;
– Outlines proposals for a, “more rigorous approach to accountability,” through the lifetime of buildings, from their design and construction through to occupation and refurbishment;
– Proposes a stronger voice for residents, providing them with new rights to receive information concerning the safety of their building;
– Requires Building Safety Managers to produce and implement a Resident Engagement Strategy, detailing how they will inform and engage residents and involve them in decision-making;
– Recommends the creation of a new Construction Products Standards Committee, comprising of technical experts and academic, to advise the Secretary of State for Housing on whether voluntary industry standards for construction products should also become UK regulatory standards; and
– Proposes a roundtable meeting between the Housing Secretary and mortgage lenders to work on an agreed approach to mortgage valuations for properties in buildings under 18m in height, to provide certainty for owners affected by vital building safety work.

These measures are in addition to the introduction of the Fire Safety Bill in March 2020, which (if enacted) will confirm that building owners and managers of all multi-occupied residential buildings must assess the risks from external walls and front entrance doors in accordance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Local Fire and Rescue Authorities will enforce compliance with the Bill.

Mr Jenrick remains of the view that building safety reforms are a top priority but is also mindful of the challenges presented to the sector by COVID-19 and has explained that the government is, “supporting building owners, managers and residents to ensure that remediation work continues where it is safe to do so.” Vital maintenance and repair work can continue to take place so long as it is conducted in accordance with public health guidance.

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