Campaigns Environment, Safety and Standards

Government announces new package of measures to improve building safety

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

The Government has announced that a new building safety regulator will be established, as part of a new package of measures designed to improve building safety in residential blocks.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will begin to establish the new regulator in shadow form immediately, ahead of it being full established, following legislation.

The regulator will raise building safety and performance standards, including overseeing a new, more stringent regime for higher-risk buildings.

Dame Judith Hackitt, who carried out an independent review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, following the Grenfell Tower fire, will chair a Board to oversee the transition.

ACM cladding

Speaking this week in the House of Commons, (see tweet below) the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP also announced that from February, he will start to name building owners where remediation has not started to remove unsafe Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding from their buildings.

What else is included in the building safety package of measures?

What else is included in the building safety package of measures?
  • Advice on building safety for multi-storey, multi-occupied buildings

The government appointed independent expert advisory panel (IEAP) has clarified and updated advice to building owners on actions they should take to ensure their buildings are safe, with a focus on their external wall systems, commonly referred to as cladding.

This consolidated advice, which can be read here, simplifies the language, consolidates previous advice into one place, and – vitally – makes clear that building owners need to do more to address safety issues on residential buildings under 18 metres.

It additionally reflects the independent panel view that cladding material comprised of ACM (and other metal composites) with an unmodified polyethylene core should not be on residential buildings of any height and should be removed.

  • Fire doors

The consolidated advice also makes clear the actions building owners should take in relation to fire doors.

The government welcomes the commitment by the Association of Composite Door Manufacturers to work with building owners to remediate their doors which failed tests.

It will continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure that this commitment is followed through.   

  • Remediation of buildings with ACM cladding

To speed up remediation, the government will be appointing a construction expert to review remediation timescales and identify what can be done to improve pace in the private sector.

To ensure cost is not a barrier to remediation, the government is considering different options to support the remediation of buildings. They are examining options to mitigate costs for individuals or provide alternative financing routes.

  • Combustible cladding ban

The government has also launched a consultation into the current combustible cladding ban, including proposals to lower the 18 metre height threshold to at least 11 metres.

  • Sprinklers

The government’s consultation on sprinklers and other measures for new build flats concluded on 28th November 2019.

It has proposed lowering the height threshold for sprinkler requirements in new buildings and will set out detailed proposals on how the government will deliver the technical review of fire guidance in February.

  • Fire Safety Bill

The government has also set out further details of the upcoming Fire Safety Bill being introduced to Parliament, which MHCLG sets out in more detail in its response to the Public Inquiry Phase 1 recommendations.

This will clarify the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – ‘the Fire Safety Order’ – requiring residential building owners to fully consider and mitigate the risks of any external wall systems and front doors to individual flats.

New consultations

Jenrick also confirmed that the government will run a consultation on extending the ban on combustible materials to buildings below 18 metres.

In addition to this, a new consultation has also be launched seeking views on how to assess, and how to understand the complexity of building risk to ensure that an appropriate level of safety is achieved in existing buildings. (Consultation closes 11:45pm on 17th February)

Learn more:

  • The full transcript of the Secretary of State’s statement to Parliament and exchanges with MPs can be accessed here.
  • The RLA run both eLearning and classroom courses for landlords and letting agents on fire safety. Read more about our elearning Foundation Fire Safety course here, and our Complete Fire Safety course here.

About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and media review, and creating social media content. She also contributes to our members magazine, Residential Property Investor.

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