The Draft Building Safety Bill Explained
Latest USP Briefings | 9th June 2021 | 10:00 am | 4 min. read
What is the Building Safety Bill?
In response to the independent review of both Building and Fire Regulations led by Dame Judith Hackitt following the Grenfell Tower Fire, the UK government has published the draft Building Safety Bill. The bill was referred to in the Queens Speech earlier this year and will be introduced to Parliament for debate in the next Parliamentary session.
Which buildings are within the scope of the Building Safety Bill?
Under the Building Safety Bill, a new set of regulations is proposed for higher-risk, multiple occupancy residential buildings of 18 metres or more in height, or 7 or more storeys (whichever figure is reached first).
What are the main items of the Building Safety Bill?
Some of the main items of the Building Safety Bill are as follows:
- Introduction of the new Building Safety Regulator
- New building Safety Regulations.
- Improvement of the competency of building inspectors.
- Introduction of three gateways (these are explained below).
- A new safety regime for the ongoing management of higher-risk buildings, including new duties for owners, registration requirements, the need for a Building Safety Certificate and the need to appoint a suitably qualified ‘Building Safety Manager’ to manage ongoing risks.
- Enhances rights for residents to seek information and/or make complaints in relation to high-risk buildings.
- New set of sanctions intended to uphold building safety standards during the construction process.
What are the 3 gateways?
This takes place during the planning permission stage, whereby statements are required to be provided to the planning authority which demonstrates that fire safety considerations have been taken into account.
This takes place during the pre-construction phase of the project. This gateway provides a ‘hard-stop’, which means that any construction work cannot commence until the Building Safety Regulator has approved the building control application.
This gateway takes place during the completion phase of the project. The Building Control Body will assess whether the work conducted on the project has been carried out in accordance with the Building Regulations.
What else has the Government done?
Aside from the Building Safety Bill, the Government has banned the use of combustible material on the external walls of high-rise buildings, published clearer guidance on existing regulations that building owners must follow and has made it mandatory for sprinkler systems to be fitted in all new blocks of flats over 11 metres high.
The Government has also identified buildings with unsafe Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding and is providing £600 million to remove and replace it in both private and social-sector homes over 18 metres high. Finally, the Government is providing £1 Billion to remove non-ACM cladding materials from high-rise residential blocks.
What happens next?
Whilst the draft bill is not expected to come into force until 2023, at the earliest, it is expected that, subject to parliamentary scrutiny, a draft Statutory Instrument in respect of Gateway 1 will take effect from 1 August 2021.
Under the draft statutory instrument, gateway 1 will require the developer of a relevant building to submit a Fire Statement which will set out the fire safety considerations specific to the development with a relevant application for planning permission for development, which involved one or more ‘relevant building’.
The Statutory instrument will also establish the Health and Safety Executive as a statutory consultee for relevant planning applications.
It is yet unknow how much of the draft bill will actually make it into formal legislation. However, it is great to see that building safety standards are taking a prime position in the next Parliamentary session.
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