The future of Building Regulation enforcement?
Not long after the horrors of Grenfell Tower, in June 2017, Dame Judith Hackitt was asked to undertake a review of the building regulation system and its enforcement. This was reported and analysed by Elmhurst back in October 2018
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has now responded in the form of a consultation on how best to improve safety and minimise the risk of fire in high rise buildings.
The consultation has 6 chapters:
Chapter 1: sets out what the government has already done and is currently doing to make buildings safer.
Chapter 2: describes which buildings these new changes and improvements will affect.
Chapter 3: describes what government want to do to make sure there are clear duty holders looking after buildings at all stages – from when they are being designed and built to when people are living in them. The duty holders are the people who are legally responsible for ensuring the building is designed and built to be safe for its residents.
Chapter 4: describes how government will empower residents by giving them the right safety information about their building and make sure that they can raise any views or concerns about the safety of their building and not be ignored.
Chapter 5: sets out how government will make sure that there is effective oversight of the regulatory system by creating a building safety regulator. This regulator will be responsible for making sure everyone follows the new regulations, 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.
Chapter 6: sets out government’s proposals to make sure those working on buildings follow the requirements and where that doesn’t happen that there is an effective way to hold them to account, including sanctions to punish those who don’t follow them.
It is proposed that, initially, the new building safety regime will be for buildings that are:
- lived in by multiple households; and
- 18 metres high (6 storeys) or more.
But it is envisaged that, over time, additional buildings, for example buildings where vulnerable people sleep, may be included.
We at Elmhurst will take the time to review this 192 page consultation and respond to anything that is relevant to energy efficiency. Our initial read suggests that this document is, understandably, more about fire and structure and focussed on tower blocks. Elmhurst believes that it is sensible to pilot change of this magnitude this approach has two possible pitfalls:
- a two tier regulatory system will cause confusion and it would be better to have one common system, that is tuned to manage the risks associated with a particular building.
- We need to ensure that a balanced view is taken to all regulatory requirements. The travesty of Grenfell Tower rightfully filled the media for weeks but it is important to realise that fuel poverty kills up to 3000 people each year and the only sustainable way of saving those lives is to ensure buildings achieve acceptable standard of energy efficiency performance. Energy efficiency needs to be balanced with structure and fire to ensure that we don’t create buildings that meet just two sets of requirements and totally miss fourteen others.
This consultation closes at 11:45pm on 31 July 2019
For the full Consultation, and to respond, please click here.