It’s taken me a while to decide how to approach this blog post. I’ve probably written and deleted the introduction four or five times, and for good reason. The final report of the Independent Review of Building Regulations & Fire Safety released this earlier this month is divisive if nothing else. It has already been subject to criticism from several sources for not calling for a ban on the use of combustible cladding, something that the Government have now said they will consult on doing.
Over 10 chapters the report provides over 50 recommendations for Government to consider, with topics ranging from competency and regulatory oversight to resident’s rights and the production of digital records.
The reports focus is on what it terms as High Risk Residential Buildings (HRRBs). These are buildings that are over 10 storeys with multiple residential occupancy.
A new regulatory framework is proposed which is designed to create a simple and effective mechanism for driving building safety, provide stronger oversight of duty holders with incentives for the right behaviours, and effective sanctions for poor performance and reassert the role of residents.
Some of the headlines of this new regulatory framework include introducing key gateway points (Planning, Full Plans Approval and Pre-occupation) for the assessment of building designs and construction and the creation of a new body known as a Joint Competent Authority (JCA). This being formed of Local Authority Building Control (to be rebranded as Local Authority Building Standards) the local Fire Rescue Service and the Health and Safety Executive. Within the report Dame Judith indicates her support of outcome based regulation and acknowledges the vital role that Approved Inspectors are expected to play in this new regime bringing with them much needed expertise and resources.
There are recommendations for stronger change control during the design and construction process and the vital need for practitioners to demonstrate competence in designing, building and checking HRRBs. There are also recommendations to improve the division and clarity of responsibilities of duty holders, these being aligned with the role of the CDM Regulations.
Change is coming. It is inevitable. Progress, however, is optional.
All in all the report makes recommendation for some fundamental reforms and although not all of these are palatable it is hard to disagree with the sprit and aims of the report. It will take time and a readiness from all stakeholders to pull together to embed new practices and I hope, create a lasting legacy.
It is our mission at C3 Design Approvals to provide consistent, collaborative, compliance. We would like to reassure clients that we are ready to meet challenges head on and with positivity. We are ready to play our part in the proposed new system to build a safer future for all.