Bodies in the industry have welcomed the government’s building safety bill but pointed out that important considerations remained to ensure the legislation was effective.
Joule Group, a fire safety engineering consultancy, welcomed the bill and the intention to create a new Building Safety Regulator, on a statutory footing, as part of it.
The proposed regulator will oversee a new safety regime for high-rise residential homes, namely those over 18 metres tall.
But the Joule Group said it believes that there are a number of important factors to future remit of the
regulator including a consideration of the framework for future public and parliamentary accountability of the
It also said that important questions had to be asked such as: what will the regulator’s key priorities be in selecting regulated firms and entities to audit? How will the remit address regulation of residential building stock below 18 metres which may be connected to or forming part of buildings over 18 metres or within the same development? Will the proposed scheme of regulation and compliance be entirely consistent with the ‘golden thread’ of data, that provides for each building to retain fire safety information over time? How will the definition of “properly managed”, as provided for in the bill, guarantee that safety information is stored and recorded in an appropriate and proportionate manner? Is the intent for this to be underpinned by the draft BS 8644-1 Digital management of fire safety information?
John Noone, co-founder of Joule Group, said: “The government’s decision to create a new regulator is to be hugely welcomed. It will bring much-needed clarity to the industry, provide consumers with confidence, and bring a much-needed standardisation of safety across the UK residential real estate above 18m tall.
“It is important to bear in mind that the remit of the proposed regulator will also have applicability to a much wider cross-section of the UK’s built environment.
“This bill, if implemented carefully, promises to make the UK a world leader in this critically important and sensitive area of public policy.”
Meanwhile, APS president Jonathan Moulam said the bill was a start for greater responsibility for all in the built environment sector. He said the bill “offers the opportunity to reset building safety in England by designing safety in and appointing a safety expert to every team when projects are being developed”.
He added: “APS members believe everyone should have the right and expectation to work and live in buildings that are safe. Firms that have failed in their duty to guard the safety of residents and workers should play their part in putting things right. But safety cannot be an afterthought. And it is a collective effort. Everyone in construction – designers, construction workers, clients, government and regulators, at every stage of life of a building – must work together using all our skills and experience to make construction safer for everyone.”