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Construction Industry Insights: The government’s response to its building safety consultation


There are not many issues significant enough to divert the government’s attention from the current coronavirus pandemic. However, ensuring the tragedy which occurred at Grenfell Tower in 2017 is not repeated is one such matter.

The government has now published its response to the consultation on its Building a Safer Future policy. The response includes more information about the new regulatory regime for building safety, the Building Safety Regulator’s role within the new regime and the new regulatory framework for construction products.

It is thought that the new measures announced in the government’s response will be included in the Building Safety Bill, which is designed to put in place new and enhanced regulatory regimes for building safety and construction products, that is currently making its way through parliament.

The new regulatory regime

The government has announced a new regulatory regime which will, at the outset, apply to all multi-occupied residential buildings of 18 metres or more in height, or more than six storeys (whichever is reached first).

The new regulatory regime will identify duty holders with responsibility at different stages during the building’s lifecycle, as follows:

  • The duty holder during the design and construction phase will reflect the duty-holder roles of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.
  • When the building is occupied, every building will have an Accountable Person, who is likely to be the freeholder or the head lessee of the building. It may also be possible for a management company to be the Accountable Person. The government has confirmed it will produce further guidance on the identity of the Accountable Person.

The new regime will require the Accountable Person to appoint a Building Safety Manager and register the building with the Building Safety Regulator in order to receive a Building Safety Certificate. This is important because a building within the scope of the new regime cannot be occupied without a Building Safety Certificate.

The Building Safety Manager’s duties will include engaging with residents on the safe management of their building and ensuring the competence of those employed in the maintenance and management of the building’s fire and structural safety.

Under the new regime, residents will be given the right to receive information about the safety of their building and access to appropriate safety information.

The Building Safety Regulator’s role

The government will be introducing a new regulator, called the Building Safety Regulator, who will be responsible for:

  1. Implementing and enforcing a more stringent regulatory regime for higher risk buildings;
  2. Providing wider and stronger oversight of safety and performance across all buildings;
  3. Promoting and increasing the competence of those working on building safety; and
  4. Overseeing the safety and performance of all buildings.

The Building Safety Regulator will be able to assist, as well as sanction, those responsible for fire safety and replacing unsafe cladding. The Building Safety Regulator will be given various powers from the ability to issue informal advice to the ability to prosecute, potentially leading to an unlimited fine.

New regulatory framework for construction products

Construction products have a critical impact on building safety and, as a result, the government plans to establish a national construction products regulatory regime to strengthen the oversight of the existing regulatory regime. This will be responsible for:

  1. Market surveillance and oversight of local enforcement action, including maintaining a national complaints system and supporting local Trading Standards in dealing with complex cases.
  2. Enforcement action with manufacturers, where issues are judged to be national and/or significant.
  3. Providing advice and support to the industry to improve compliance as well as providing the government with technical advice.

The government has confirmed that the above-mentioned reforms are designed to incentivise compliance from industry, regulators and residents; and to better enable the use of enforcement powers and sanctions, including prosecution as a last resort where the rules are not followed.

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If you have any questions or are seeking up-to-date legal advice on construction matters, contact Alice Toop on 01202 294 566 or email [email protected].   

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