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New UK joint regulatory body to trial revised building safety regulation

Formation of Joint Regulators’ Group is one of several amendments to building safety standards alongside upcoming reviews concerning the role of fire services in planning

Government will establish a Joint Regulators’ Group to trial components of a new regulatory system for building safety as part of its latest response to the Hackitt review of existing standards and legislation.

Secretary of State for Communities James Brokenshire said this group will see existing regulatory bodies pooling their resources to work with developers and building owners to test potential approaches to revised standards and legislation that can tackle concerns over safety compliance.

A wider range of consultations are also scheduled to be launched next spring to further review and revise key standards that will impact building design, performance and maintenance. This will include ensuring fire and rescue services are directly consulted over the final plans of buildings.

Government said it has issued a call for evidence looking specifically at fire safety in buildings to bring together expert views, as well as resident feedback, on improving standards and structures.

Mr Brokenshire said that the proposals to improve building safety would build on the recommendations of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety overseen by Dame Judith Hackitt.

The outcomes of the review, which was launched in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, were hugely critical of the existing systems for ensuring safety in buildings, particularly high risk, high rise properties.

Mr Brokenshire said, “My plan for stronger, tougher rules will make sure there is no hiding place for those who flout building safety rules.”

“By making people responsible and more accountable for safety, we will create a more rigorous system so residents will always have peace of mind that they are safe in their own homes.”

Despite recent calls from industry for greater clarity and direction from government on defining new standards to address concerns raised in the Hackitt review, Mr Brokenshire said authorities have been working to gather evidence on how best to rethink compliance in construction.

Over the next six-months, government said that a number of consultations will take place to see whether new legislation and regulatory approaches are needed to ensure sufficient competence when working on multi-occupied high-rise residential buildings.

Mr Brokenshire stated in his implementation plan, “If industry’s proposals do not go far enough to provide the necessary assurance, or there is no collective agreement, the Government will consider alternative proposals, including through mandation, as recommended by Dame Judith.”

Plans for 2019

A call for evidence has now been launched to inform a technical review of Approved Document B within existing building regulations that focuses on fire safety issues.

Other consultations scheduled for spring will consider options for a new governance structure to oversee buildings guidance and regulation, as well as a formal review of handover processes when a building is transferred to an owner.

The government stated in its implementation plans, “While there are legitimate reasons to allow occupation in a phased way, the practice of allowing occupancy of buildings without proper review and handover presents barriers to the implementation of any remedial measures identified as part of the completion process.”

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