The biggest changes to building safety legislation announced

These new building safety measures have stemmed from the tragedy of Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June 2017, which in turn created the legislation for the new reforms through the Building Safety Bill.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP has  announced steps to  reform the building safety system to ensure residents are safe in their homes.

New measures announced include mandatory sprinkler systems and consistent wayfinding signage in all new high-rise blocks of flats over 11 metres tall.

The government’s construction expert, David Hancock, has also been appointed to review the progress of removing unsafe ACM claddings from buildings.

The reforms are designed to incentivise compliance and to better enable the use of enforcement powers and sanctions, including prosecution where the rules are not followed.

The Housing Secretary will hold a roundtable with mortgage lenders to work on an agreed approach to mortgage valuations for properties in buildings under 18 metres tall, providing certainty for owners affected by vital building safety work.

Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:  “This new regime  follows the announcement of the unprecedented £1 billion fund for removing unsafe cladding from high-rise buildings in the Budget.”

The housing industry is designing a website so lenders and leaseholders can access the information needed to proceed with sales and re-mortgaging.

The measures include:

  • providing £1 billion in 2020/21 to support the remediation of unsafe non-ACM cladding materials on high-rise buildings. This is in addition to the £600 million already available remediation of high-rise buildings with unsafe ACM cladding
  • naming building owners who have been slow to act in removing unsafe ACM cladding
  • the introduction of the Fire Safety Bill, which took us one step further in delivering the recommendations of the Grenfell Inquiry’s Phase One report

The latest non-ACM (aluminium composite material) cladding testing results have been published today and show that none of the materials, including high-pressure laminate (HPL) and timber cladding, behaved in the same way as ACM.

Any unsafe materials should be removed from buildings quickly. External wall systems on high-rise buildings using Class C or D HPL panels have been recognised unsafe and should be removed as they do not comply with building regulations.

The government has also made clear that vital maintenance and repair work can continue to take place in line with public health guidance and consultations with Dame Judith who undertook an independent review of building regulations and fire safety after the Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June 2017.

Earlier this year, the government announced that it is creating a new, national Building Safety Regulator, which is already being established in shadow form by the Health and Safety Executive.

Image: sculpies / Adobe Stock

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About Simon Wright

Simon Wright writes about infrastructure, construction and real estate finance.

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