Weighing up the law

Laura White explores the government’s commitment to the Hackitt Review’s

proposed reforms for construction fire safety

and fire safety regulatory reform in England. The review was commissioned by the government to look at the regulatory framework around the construction, maintenance and ongoing use of buildings, with a focus on multi occupied, high rise residential buildings (HRRBs), and concluded that the current system is not fit for purpose and that a radical systemic overhaul is required. In its Building a Safer Future; implementation


plan, published on 18 December 2018, the government confirmed its commitment to bringing forward legislation at the earliest opportunity to introduce a new regulatory and accountability framework for HRRBs of more than ten storeys, with the potential to extend this to cover a wider range of multi occupancy residential buildings and institutional residential buildings, following further consultation. Many of the proposals in the government’s

implementation plan will require further consultation, with most aspects being consulted on in the spring. However, Communities and Housing Secretary James Brokenshire has promised radical change. At the heart of the implementation plan is a commitment to: • implement a fundamental reform of building safety, introducing a system which ensures that people are safe, and feel safe

• a tougher regulatory framework with the proactive deployment of stronger sanctions and more robust enforcement powers against those who fail to comply

22 FEBRUARY 2019

N RESPONSE to Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of the current regime, the UK government has committed to a programme of building

• a systematic overhaul with clear direction to all parties – including regulators, the construction industry and those who own high rise buildings – that they must put residents’ safety at the heart of the system

This work spans four key areas: 1. A stronger, more effective regulatory and accountability framework – central to the 50 recommendations in the Hackitt review was the creation of a new statutory joint competent authority (JCA), allowing local authority building standards, fire and rescue authorities and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to collaborate more closely when overseeing the approval, construction and occupation of HRRBs. The government has confirmed that it wants the new regulatory structure to draw on the expertise of these key existing regulators, providing a more joined up approach, and will set up a joint regulators’ group to trial elements of the new system ahead of any new proposed legislation. The new regime will be backed by stronger sanctions and enforcement powers for regulators, which will be subject to consultation. Regulators will also be given more opportunities to intervene at various regulatory ‘gateways’ throughout the design and construction lifecycle, where the onus will be on the dutyholder to demonstrate that they are ‘actively managing’ safety risks.

2. Clearer standards and guidance on what is required to make buildings safe, as well as improving the way in which construction products are tested, labelled and marketed. A new standards committee will be established in the next

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