Future High Rise Building Regulation

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Commercial Article

07 June, 2019

The Government yesterday issued a consultation on its proposed changes for building safety for high rise buildings following the Hackitt Review. Please click here to view the proposed changes. The proposals are intended to improve safety and minimise the risk of fire in high rise buildings by:

  • setting clearer responsibilities for those building or managing these buildings
  • giving residents a stronger voice and better information
  • greater oversight by a regulator
  • tougher enforcement when things go wrong

If the Government proposals come to fruition in the form outlined in the consultation document, it will have a significant impact on our registered provider clients who are developing and/or own such buildings, not least in terms of increased cost and extra work both during the development and construction of new high rise developments, but also in maintaining them.

The proposed new requirements will apply to buildings that are lived in by multiple households and are 18 metres high (6 storeys) or more and include:

  • duty holders to looking after high rise buildings at all stages - from when they are being designed and built to when people are living in them. Those duty holders are to be legally responsible for ensuring the building is designed and built to be safe for its residents
  • during construction, five duty holders (client, principal designer, principal contractor, designer and contractor) will be responsible for the safety of a building when it is being designed and built, including ensuring that building regulations are complied with at 3 "gateway" points: when applying for planning permission; before starting construction; and before residents move in
  • post construction, an 'accountable person' is to look after higher risk buildings once people have moved in. The aim is for relevant safety information to be held digitally throughout the lifecycle of the building to support changes to the building and incident management. This responsibility will sit with the owner and can't be delegated, although a building safety manager can be appointed to carry out the day to day work.
  • rights for residents to safety information about their building so that residents understand the fire protection in place to keep the building safe, and to have their views or concerns about the safety of their building heard and taken account of with building owners needing to have a resident engagement strategy in place
  • effective oversight by a new building safety regulator with mandatory reporting to the regulator by duty holders on fire and structural issues and handling of residents reporting of urgent safety concerns. This regulator will be responsible for making sure the new regulations are complied with and that those responsible for buildings have the right skills and knowledge for the job. It will also have oversight of building safety across England
  • strengthening of the regulation of construction products
  • sanctions to punish those who don't comply such as criminal offences and penalties such as fines

The obligation under the Governance and Financial Viability Standard requiring registered providers to comply with all law, will include compliance with any law ultimately brought in by the Government following consultation on its proposed policy changes. It will also mean that registered providers will have to engage with another regulatory body. As a key risk for those who already own high rise buildings and those who are planning the development of such buildings, it would be advisable to include this on your risk register as an emerging risk and bring this to your board's attention, as well as your development and asset management teams.

Alongside the consultation, the Government has issued a call for evidence on the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005 which comprises the current law on fire safety. Views are sought on the current effectiveness and application of the Fire Safety Order to provide a regulatory framework for the ongoing management of fire safety in non-domestic premises and the common parts of multi-occupied residential buildings.

We will be submitting a response to the consultation but given the importance for our registered provider clients, we would encourage you to engage with the consultation and help to shape the future regulation of high rise buildings. Responses are to be submitted online by 31 July.

For more information contact Daniel Milnes in our Commercial department via email or phone on 01254 222313. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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