Consultation: The new safety regime for occupied higher-risk buildings
Government Consultation - There are 12 consultation sections in this area. These consultations all relate to the proposals for occupied higher-risk buildings under Part Four of the Building Safety Act 2022. A HTML version of this consultation can be found here.
Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017, the Government appointed Dame Judith Hackitt to lead an independent review of building regulations and fire safety. In her May 2018 report, Building a safer future, Dame Judith outlined a new approach to managing fire and structural safety risks in high-rise multi-occupied residential buildings. Overall, 53 recommendations were made for government and industry to drive the cultural change and behaviours necessary to improve building safety.
The Government committed to implementing Dame Judith Hackitt's recommendations and, at the end of April 2022, the Building Safety Act received Royal Assent. The Building Safety Act 2022 (the Act) will make buildings safer and deliver improvements across the entire built environment, including strengthening oversight and protection for residents in high-rise buildings. Its focus on risk will help owners to manage their buildings better, while giving the home-building industry the clear, proportionate framework it needs to deliver more, better, high-quality homes.
The Act received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022 and will be supported by a package of secondary legislation, that will provide further detail on much of the content of the Act. From Summer 2022, the Government is consulting on much of this secondary legislation, before final versions are laid before Parliament for approval.
A key part of these reforms includes introducing a new, more stringent regulatory regime for high-rise residential and other in scope buildings. These are known as higher-risk buildings. Government is consulting on the Higher Risk Buildings (Descriptions and Supplementary Provisions) Regulations.
The Act defines higher-risk buildings for the new occupation regime as buildings which contain at least two residential units and are at least 18 metres in height or at least 7 storeys (whichever is reached first). The Government intends to supplement this definition in regulations.
The new, more stringent regulatory regime will place legal responsibilities on those who commission building work, participate in the design and construction process and those who are responsible for managing structural and fire safety in higher-risk buildings when they are occupied. These people will be called dutyholders during design and construction and principal accountable persons and accountable persons when the building is occupied. When building work is carried out on an existing higher-risk building (refurbishment) this may involve both dutyholders and a principal accountable person and accountable person(s), as many buildings will remain occupied during the refurbishment.
All occupied higher-risk buildings will have one clearly identifiable accountable person, who will also be the principal accountable person. If an occupied higher-risk residential building has just one accountable person, they will automatically become the principal accountable person. Where the building has two or more accountable persons, the one responsible for the repair of the structure and exterior of the building will be the principal accountable person. They will have the same statutory obligations for assessing and managing building safety risks in their own area of the building as other accountable persons but will also have additional responsibility for meeting specific statutory obligations for the whole building.
Requirements of the new, more stringent regime for higher-risk buildings are being brought forward through part 3 and part 4 of the Act and will be supported by a package of secondary legislation. These requirements include a new, more stringent building control regime for the design and construction of higher-risk buildings, a requirement to register the building, the introduction of a safety case approach to managing fire and structural safety during occupation, duties to engage residents, the ongoing management of a digital golden thread of information throughout the building lifecycle and the creation of a mandatory occurrence reporting framework. The Building Safety Regulator (part of the Health and Safety Executive) will enforce the new, more stringent regulatory regime for higher-risk buildings; overseeing compliance with the new regulations once they come into force.