After Grenfell, a move towards policy and legislative change?
Two years after the horror of the Grenfell Tower fire, changes to policy and legislation are finally starting to take form. The first step was the initiation of the Hackitt Review of Building Regulation and Fire Safety ("the Review"), led by Dame Judith Hackitt. The final Review was published in May 2018 and found problems with the design, construction and management of some high-rise buildings. The Review also found that residents lacked confidence that their buildings were safe or their concerns were taken seriously.
Following on from this, the government has developed a set of proposals to improve the fire and structural safety of high-rise residential buildings. In summary these seeks to:
- Establish clearer responsibilities for those building or managing these buildings;
- Create a stronger voice in the system and better information for residents;
- Ensure greater oversight by regulators; and
- Ensure tougher enforcement when things go wrong.
Prior to finalisation, a public consultation was launched on 6 June 2019.
The following chapters are of note:
Chapter 2: outlines which buildings the new changes will affect, namely multi-occupied residential buildings of 18 metres or more in height (around six stories).
Chapter 3: describes the establishment of 'dutyholders' responsible for ensuring the safety of the building and compliance with Building Regulations throughout the design and construction process and during the occupation of the building.
- Part A - proposes introducing dutyholders (client, principal designer, principal contractor, designer and contractor), who will be responsible for the safety of a building during design and construction to ensure compliance with Building Regulations.
- Part B - sets out the duties of an 'accountable person' who will be responsible for the safety of the building once occupied. They will be legally responsible for the ongoing fire and structural safety of a building.
- Part C - sets out a methodology to ensure buildings are safe throughout their lifecycle, and that at every stage someone has responsibility for managing and minimising fire and structural risks.
Chapter 4: sets out how residents will be given appropriate safety information about their building and establishes robust mechanisms for residents to raise concerns about safety.
Chapter 5: sets out the creation of a building safety regulator to provide oversight of the new regime, together with a range of sanctions and enforcement powers.
Chapter 6: sets out proposals to strengthen enforcement and sanctions to deter non-compliance. The government also suggests giving private individuals the right to claim damages where they suffer harm because work on a building has not met Building Regulations standards.
The consultation ends on 31 July 2019 and runs parallel with a call for evidence on related changes to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (SI 2005/1541).
This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.