Beefed up measures to improve building safety standards

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced a raft of new measures to improve building safety and ensure residents can feel safe in their homes in the future.

More than two and half years since the Grenfell fire and just ahead of the public inquiry resuming, the Government committed itself to delivering the biggest change in building safety ‘for a generation’. Among the measures announced are:

  • The new Building Safety Regulator will be established within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Dame Judith Hackitt will chair its Board;
  • Government has clarified and consolidated advice for building owners, including proposals to extend the cladding ban, as well as updates on fire doors and water sprinkler systems;
  • Owners of tower blocks who have not taken action to make their buildings safe will be named from February; and
  • Response to Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry published

Jenrick warned the slow pace of improving building safety standards will not be tolerated, while oversight of the design, construction and occupation of high-risk buildings will be performed by a new regulator established as part of the HSE.

Where the owners of tower blocks have no clear plan for remediation, to remove unsafe Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding, the Government says it will work with local authorities to support them in their enforcement options.

Jenrick confirmed he will consult on extending the ban on combustible materials to buildings below 18 metres and will seek views on how risks are assessed within existing buildings to inform future policy.

The Government has also set out further details of the upcoming Fire Safety Bill being introduced to Parliament. 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.

A call for evidence will also be published, seeking views on the assessment of risks within existing buildings. This important will help to gather ideas and lead to research which will provide a firm evidence base to guide decisions for both existing buildings and future regulatory regimes.

By Patrick Mooney, Editor