The Higher-Risk Buildings (Keeping and Provision of Information etc.) (England) Regulations 2023 are the final set of regulations implementing Part 4 of the Building Safety Act, which covers the occupation of higher-risk buildings (HRBs). They deliver on Dame Judith Hackitt’s call, in 2018, for a digital standard of record-keeping for HRBs, and prescribe what information and documents the principal accountable person (PAP) and any other accountable person (AP) responsible for a HRB must keep in relation to the building.
Those who are accountable for a HRB have a duty to have, and to maintain, accurate, up-to-date and secure information about the building, so they can discharge their duty to manage that building safely. If they already have up-to-date information and a full safety management plan, there will not be a huge amount to do.
These ‘golden thread’ regulations should certainly not surprise anyone responsible for a HRB. It is more than five years since Dame Judith made her recommendations, and four and a half years since the government accepted them in full. This train has been coming for a while now.
For those reasons, many in the sector have been working towards this for several years. They have been busy identifying and bringing together the information they already hold, and updating information where that was needed. There has been a particular focus on the requirement for this information to be held ‘electronically’, for it to be readily available to those who need it, and for it to be exchangeable, especially if management contracts or providers change, or HRBs change ownership.
An AP is a dutyholder who is responsible for the safety of an occupied HRB under Part 4 of the Building Safety Act. If there is only one AP, they are the principal AP (PAP). Where there is more than one AP, the PAP is the AP responsible for the structure and exterior of the HRB.
These regulations identify what information the PAP must provide to the regulator, other APs, residents and the fire and rescue authority. There is significant detail, both in the regulations and in Schedule 1, on the information prescribed for the golden thread under section 88(1) of the Building Safety Act.
The key building information submitted will help the accountable person to assess the building’s safety risks when developing the safety case for the building. It will also help the Building Safety Regulator to determine which HRBs to prioritise when calling in safety case reports to consider granting Building Assessment Certificates. This process is due to begin in earnest in April 2024.
These new regulations build on the foundations laid by the HRB regulations, published earlier this year. They set out, in detail, what information must be held in the golden thread and the requirements relating to how that information is held, made available, and kept up to date.
The required information covers fire safety management of the building, including assessment of the major fire safety risks and the measures in place to manage those risks, including physical location of equipment or elements of the fabric – such as a fire door – within the building.
These ‘golden thread’ regulations should not surprise anyone responsible for a HRB. This train has been coming for a while now
It also covers the evacuation strategy for the building, including details of the precautions to be taken by building occupants to reduce the risk of needing to evacuate the building at all.
The golden thread information includes details of all structural safety measures in the building, relevant reports, and details of the design codes applied to the building when constructed, as well as plans of the building. It will include the assessment of building safety risks as defined in the Building Safety Act, which relate to fire and structural safety, and management of maintenance and repair of the HRB.
The provision of this information is not unreasonable. Those APs who find these requirements unduly onerous might want to consider whether they have been providing an appropriate standard of management until now. It might not be wise to make too much fuss about the new requirements, as it might only serve to draw attention to previous management standards.
CIBSE is working with the Construction Leadership Council to provide further industry guidance on the regulations and on how APs can meet the new obligations in a safe, reasonable and proportionate manner. It is another step on the road to rebuilding trust in the construction and operation of our higher-rise building stock, and to building a safer future.
Read more articles on the regulations at bit.ly/CJSafety
- Evacuation strategies: Further information on evacuation strategies was recently updated by the government at bit.ly/CJreg9FS
Dr Hywel Davies HonFCIBSE is chief technical officer at CIBSE. He chaired the BRAC Golden Thread working group.