Building safety has rightly been under scrutiny following the tragic events that unfolded during the summer of 2017 at Grenfell Tower. It may feel at times that progress towards a clearer and more stringent system is glacial - however things are moving.
The Building Safety Bill (Draft) is due to be released on Monday (20th July 2020) - [Government press announcement here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/landmark-building-safety-law-to-keep-residents-safe].
The Bill sets out the building blocks for a new landscape in building safety, including the establishment of a Building Safety Regulator (BSR), Duty Holder roles, as well as competence assurance and registration for individual building control professionals.
The Government states that the draft Bill will,
'... ensure that there will always be someone responsible for keeping residents safe in high rise buildings – those 18 metres and above. They will also have to listen and respond to residents’ concerns and ensure their voices are heard – they will be called the ‘Accountable Person’.'
More information on this is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/explained-the-draft-building-safety-bill?utm_source=72268307-e5f0-4914-8b15-0857143e66bc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate
In addition to the Bill, a cross industry report providing recommendations for the future of the Building Control sector in England was published this week [available here: https://cdn.ymaws.com/cbuilde.com/resource/resmgr/documents/V2_Future_of_Building_Contro.pdf].
This report includes key recommendations:
Steps to simplify and unify building control legislation, process and procedures
An independent designated body to oversee professional registration and organisational audit
Introduction of a new competence framework to cover all persons working in building control including those working on higher risk buildings in scope of the new regulator
A unified pan-industry Code of conduct for all Building Control Bodies and professionals
A unified pan-industry career structure to set clear expectations of competence across the building control sector.
Another important step not to be over looked is the consultation on fire safety that the Home Office will publish on Monday (20 July 2020). This will gather views on proposals to implement the recommendations from Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry [more information on Grenfell Inquiry - which is currently hearing evidence in it's second phase is available here: https://www.grenfelltowerinquiry.org.uk/] that require a change in law; strengthen the Fire Safety Order and improve compliance: and improve fire safety in all regulated buildings in England.
Whilst it may be difficult to get excited about legislation, its really important to ensure that the Building Safety Bill when enacted is fit for purpose. This may well be a once in a lifetime opportunity to get it right and make a meaningful, positive change towards a safer future.