New measures to improve building safety standards
The Government has announced that a new building safety regulator will be established, as part of a new package of measures designed to improve building safety in residential blocks.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will begin to establish the new regulator which will ultimately raise building safety and performance standards, including overseeing a new, more stringent regime for higher-risk buildings.
The Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP also announced this week that from February, he will start to name building owners where remediation has not started to remove unsafe Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding from their buildings.
The housing secretary said: “The government is committed to bringing about the biggest change in building safety for a generation.
“Progress on improving building safety needs to move significantly faster to ensure people are safe in their homes and building owners are held to account.
“That’s why today I’m announcing a major package of reforms, including establishing the Building Safety Regulator within the Health and Safety Executive to oversee the new regime and publishing consolidated guidance for building owners.
“Unless swift progress is seen in the coming weeks, I will publicly name building owners where action to remediate unsafe ACM cladding has not started. There can be no more excuses for delay, I’m demanding immediate action.”
Also included in the building safety package of measures:
Advice on building safety for multi-storey, multi-occupied buildings
The government appointed independent expert advisory panel (IEAP) has clarified and updated advice to building owners on actions they should take to ensure their buildings are safe, with a focus on their external wall systems, commonly referred to as cladding.
This consolidated advice, which can be read here, simplifies the language and consolidates previous advice into one place.
The consolidated advice also makes clear the actions building owners should take in relation to fire doors.
Remediation of buildings with ACM cladding
To speed up remediation, the government will be appointing a construction expert to review remediation timescales and identify what can be done to improve pace in the private sector.
To ensure cost is not a barrier to remediation, the government is considering different options to support the remediation of buildings. They are examining options to mitigate costs for individuals or provide alternative financing routes.
Combustible cladding ban
The government has also launched a consultation into the current combustible cladding ban, including proposals to lower the 18 metre height threshold to at least 11 metres.
The government’s consultation on sprinklers and other measures for new build flats concluded on 28th November 2019.
It has proposed lowering the height threshold for sprinkler requirements in new buildings and will set out detailed proposals on how the government will deliver the technical review of fire guidance in February.
Fire Safety Bill
The government has also set out further details of the upcoming Fire Safety Bill being introduced to Parliament, which MHCLG sets out in more detail in its response to the Public Inquiry Phase 1 recommendations.
This will clarify the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – ‘the Fire Safety Order’ – requiring residential building owners to fully consider and mitigate the risks of any external wall systems and front doors to individual flats.