In late 2020, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) published the draft Building Safety Bill for pre-legislative review this July (2021). This bill is intended to introduce major reforms to the safety regime in the wake of the recent Hackitt Review.

Robert Jenrick, Housing Secretary, recently 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.”

This article will take a closer look at some of the changes that it puts forward.

Overview of the bill

This new legislation aims to ensure there is a direct line of accountability throughout the life of a building – including its design, construction, and occupation.

Although the bill applies to all buildings, many of the more detailed provisions apply to so-called higher-risk buildings (HRBs), with what constitutes an HRB being amended if necessary. At the moment, HRBs are defined as all multi-occupancy residential buildings with a height of 18m or more, or more than six storeys (whichever is reached first).

As well as publishing this draft Bill, the MHCLG also issued a statement emphasizing the need for accountability and clarity when it comes to HRBs: “At each of these three stages, it will be clear who is responsible for managing the potential risks and what is required to move to the next stage enabling a golden thread of vital information about the building to be gathered over its lifetime.”

The cornerstone of these new, more stringent requirements, will be a new national regulator for building safety – the Building Safety Regulator.

The Building Safety Regulator (BSR)

The new Building Safety Regulator (BSR) will be the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and they will have two main objectives:

  • To secure the safety of people in or about buildings
  • To improve the standard of buildings

The BSR will have wide-ranging governance with existing powers under the Building Act 1984, and to enforce compliance with this new legislation.

The design and construction of higher risk buildings (HRBs)

  • There will be five new duty holders during design and construction aligned with the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 15) and these roles will be client, principal contractor, principal designer, contractor and designer.
  • There will be a new Gateway regime with Gateway One occurring before duty holders are required to be in place and those applying for planning permission, and Gateway Two occurring prior to construction work beginning. Gateway Three will be at completion and will require the duty holders to hand over the prescribed documents and information (the golden thread) to the Accountable Person and submit to the BSR the prescribed documents and information on the final as-built building.
  • In addition, the bill includes provisions for a mandatory Occurrence Reporting System to be established, making it compulsory for any fire safety and structural issues that could pose a significant risk to life to be reported to the BSR.
  • The bill also creates powers to make provision for the regulation of all construction products marketed in the UK, moving away from the current regime whereby only some products are regulated by the EU framework.

The draft Building Safety Bill is being considered by a parliamentary committee, which will give feedback and recommendations – and there will also be consultation with industry stakeholders and residents.

We will continue to watch developments closely, and report back any updates via our blog – so check back regularly for more information.