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Building Safety Regulator runs inaugural sector conference in London

11 April 2023

THE BUILDING Safety Regulator has organised and subsequently held its first national Annual Conference, with the content purpose-designed to support the industry and duty holders alike in preparing for the new building safety-focused regulations in England. Upwards of 900 practitioners were in attendance at the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster.

Pictured (above): Lee Rowley MP (Minister for Building Safety) delivers his keynote speech at conference watched by (left) Sarah Newton, chair of the Health and Safety Executive) and, right, Sarah Albon (CEO of the Health and Safety Executive)

Those practitioners included architects, landlords and building control professionals, all of them keen to raise their own awareness and understanding of what the Building Safety Regulator will expect from them over the course of the next 18 months.

This is the largest event to be organised by the Building Safety Regulator since its establishment by the Building Safety Act 2022 as part of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). As such, the central London gathering provided the first opportunity for representatives from across the industry to engage with those leading the new regime.

On the day, conference featured a topical programme of information, learning and interactive Q&A sessions involving senior Building Safety Regulator policy leads and key industry representatives, all of whom offered delegates valuable insights into the robust regulatory regime and guidance on the legal duties and requirements tabled under the Building Safety Act.

A notable session was headlined by Dame Judith Hackitt. Focused on the Industry Safety Steering Group’s third report, Dame Judith discussed the subject of culture change in the built environment industry.

Owners and managers of approximately 12,500 high-rise residential buildings (HRRBs) in England have until 1 October 2023 to register with the Building Safety Regulator or otherwise face investigation and prosecution.

Key information around this crucial registration stage was covered in detail throughout the event to help duty holders better understand how to comply. Other sessions that proved popular with delegates included presentations on HRRB planning, design and construction gateways and the drive to increase competency across the industry.

Importance of collaboration

In his keynote speech, Lee Rowley MP (Minister for Building Safety) set out the importance of collaboration for delivering better standards. Rowley observed: “We need to ensure that those working in the building industry have the knowledge and confidence to properly engage with this new regime and make it a success.”

Also addressing delegates, Sarah Albon (chief executive at the HSE) noted: “Over the past 18 months, we’ve been talking directly to residents and resident groups, listening to their concerns and trying to understand what would give them the reassurance they need. We need to be sure we take the steps needed to make sure everything is right. People must be safe in their own homes, and they must feel safe, too.”  

Albon added: “All of you have a really important part to play in ensuring that we can set up this new regime successfully and that, through the Building Safety Regulator, the HSE can continue to protect people and places.”

Peter Baker, Chief Inspector of Buildings, commented: “The regulatory reforms that will start from April will ensure that you all lead the behaviour change that’s needed and do what is required to protect residents. They also introduce a new regulator ‘with teeth’ to hold to account those who choose not to learn the lessons and improve.”

The conference comes at a ‘milestone moment’ for building safety given that, as Peter Baker mentioned, the registration process for HRRBs is set to begin next month.

Conference sessions will be available to view online in the coming weeks.

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Building Safety Act 2022

The Building Safety Act gained Royal Assent on 28 April 2022 and introduces ground-breaking reforms designed to afford residents and homeowners alike more rights, powers and protections.

The Act of Parliament overhauls existing regulations, in turn creating lasting change, and makes clear how residential buildings should be constructed, maintained and made safe.

Full implementation of the Building Safety Act is to be realised in October 2023, which means that each building owner should have their building safety regime in place by this point in time.

The Building Safety Regulator is keenly focused on building safety and performance standards and will oversee a new and stringent regime for high-rise residential buildings, in addition to overseeing the wider system for regulating the safety and performance of all buildings and increasing the competence of relevant regulators and industry professionals.