The government has published its building safety bill in draft form.
The bill is intended to “deliver the biggest changes to building safety for nearly 40 years”, says the government.
Residents have helped to develop the proposals through engagement groups, and under the new rules, people living in high-rise buildings will be empowered to challenge inaction from their building owner and have better access to safety information about their building and will benefit from a swift and effective complaints process.
A Building Safety Regulator, already being set up within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), will be fully established and equipped with the powers to hold building owners to account or face the consequences.
It will enforce a new, more stringent set of rules that will apply for buildings of 18 metres or more or taller than six storeys from the design phase to occupation.
The government views the draft bill as legislation that will evolve as further evidence and risks are identified to ensure that residents’ safety is always prioritised and will also provide new powers to better regulate construction materials and products to guarantee that they are safe to use.
The draft bill includes a new ‘building safety charge’ to give leaseholders greater transparency on costs incurred in maintaining a safe building – with numerous powers deliberately included to limit the costs that can be re-charged to leaseholders.
The government also published a consultation that sets out proposals to implement the recommendations from phase one of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry that require a change in the law.
The consultation will also look at strengthening fire safety in all regulated buildings in England.
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said: “This is a significant milestone on our journey to fundamentally improving building safety and delivering real change that will keep people safer in their homes. I remain committed to making sure we get this right, which is why I will be publishing the draft bill for scrutiny and improvement before it is introduced in Parliament. I am also calling on the industry to actively prepare for these changes now. It is vital that the sector moves in step with us, to provide confidence and reassurance to residents that their safety is firmly at the heart of everything we do.”
The government is also announcing that full applications for the £1 billion Building Safety Fund, to remove unsafe non-ACM cladding from buildings, can be submitted from 31 July – with 747 registration forms processed since 1st June.
To also ensure that building owners are clear on which steps they need to take to ensure the building is safe, it will also publish a new Manual to the Building Regulations, which contains all approved documents in one place.