New body to oversee ‘stringent’ safety regime

Building Safety Regulator set up as government warns owners about cladding

Credit: Number 10 CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick has announced that a new Building Safety Regulator is to be established immediately.

The regulatory body will be part of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and at the heart of a new, ‘more stringent’ regime. Jenrick told the House of Commons last month that it would provide effective oversight of the design, construction and occupation of higher-risk buildings.

Dame Judith Hackitt has been appointed as chair of a board to oversee the transition. 

Jenrick said: ‘Progress on improving building safety needs to move significantly faster to ensure people are safe in their homes and building owners are held to account. The slow pace of improving building safety standards will not be tolerated.’

The government has also launched a consultation into the combustible cladding ban, including proposals to lower the current 18m height threshold to at least 11m.

New advice on building safety for multi-storey, multi-occupied buildings is being issued by the government-appointed independent expert advisory panel. It has clarified and updated advice to building owners on actions they should take to ensure their buildings are safe, with a focus on cladding, and including fire doors 

The advice reflects the panel’s view that cladding material comprised of aluminium composite material (ACM) and other metal composites with an unmodified polyethylene core should not be on residential buildings of any height and should be removed.

A call for evidence seeks views on the assessment of risks within existing buildings.

Jenrick warned that some building owners were still acting too slowly to remove unsafe ACM cladding, and told parliament: ‘Unless swift progress is seen in the coming weeks, I will publicly name building owners where action to remediate unsafe ACM cladding has not started. There can be no more excuses for delay. I’m demanding immediate action.’

It is estimated that works are yet to start on 143 privately owned tower blocks, with issues around whether leaseholders or freeholders should be responsible for the high fees often associated with the remedial work.