The Government has said there will be “no hiding place” for builders who fail to protect high-rise residents, as plans to overhaul regulations are revealed following the Grenfell tragedy which killed 72 people last year.
A “radically-new system” would be the best tribute for the victims of the fire and that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will establish “stronger sanctions to prevent and punish wrongdoing”.
This follows recommendations by Dame Judith Hackitt from her report in May, which she found that indifference and ignorance led to a race to the bottom in building safety practices.
Before the fire, a cladding system using highly flammable rainscreen panels had been installed on the block. In September the Government banned the use of combustible cladding on new high-rise homes, which is due to come into force this week, 18 months after the fire.
The Government have committed to reforming four key areas:
- introducing more effective regulations and accountability;
- clearer guidance;
- prioritising residents;
- working with the industry to drive change.
They are set to work with firms and tenants to trial more rigorous ways of monitoring developers, contractors and landlords, with an emphasis on public safety. Successful approaches will then contribute to fresh legislation to tighten-up building regulations which will include more punitive sanctions for those who disregard regulations.
Campaign group Grenfell United called it a “long overdue shake up” of the industry but warned against urgent changes being forgotten about and not prioritised.
They stated “we must be vigilant to ensure Government industry, that so badly failed us, do not water down these changes”.
“Resident voices must be given weight and Parliament must keep a watchful eye on progress”.
The new regulatory framework will apply to multi-occupancy buildings of at least ten storeys, with a consultation in Spring 2019 on whether additional buildings should be included.
The Government will also consult on proposals to create dutyholders, who will ensure resident safety in each stage of building development and strengthen accountability. Their responsibilities will be determined by regulations that would require gateways at key stages, to demonstrate they are actively managing safety risks.
A Standards Committee will be established to advise on construction product and system standards, as well as a Joint Regulators Group that will consist of bodies like the Health and Safety Executive, the Local Government Association (LGA), fire and rescue authorities and local authorities.
The LGA has welcomed the Governments commitment to implement the recommendations and where necessary go beyond them, as they have with the use of combustible materials.
“The tragedy at Grenfell Tower must never be allowed to happen again and we look forward to working with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to make sure the new system of building regulations work”.
Brokenshire pushes for a culture change and confirms “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”.
For more information on this subject, see:
Building Regulations SI 2010/2214;
Building (Amendment) Regulations SI 2018/1230