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Construction Leadership Council welcomes introduction of Building Safety Bill to Parliament

13 July 2021

ALONGSIDE THE introduction of the Building Safety Bill, observes the Construction Leadership Council. some draft statutory instruments on scope, duty holders and competence, as well as transitional provisions, have been published.

The Building Safety Bill will define the scope of the new regulatory regime and includes establishing the new Building Safety Regulator within the Health and Safety Executive. As part of its role, the new regulator will oversee a more stringent, yet proportionate regulatory regime for new and existing high-rise buildings of 18 metres and above.

Further, it sets out clear duties and responsibilities on those who commission, design, construct and refurbish high-rise buildings, as well as those responsible for ensuring buildings are safely managed when occupied.

Importantly, the new legislation is also focused on introducing powers to strengthen the regulatory framework for construction products, underpinned by a market surveillance and enforcement regime led nationally by the Office for Product Safety and Standards.

The Construction Leadership Council observes: “It’s imperative that all parts of the industry make themselves aware of the changes in order to begin to understand and implement them during the design, construction, maintenance and refurbishment of all buildings going forward, not only high-rise residential buildings. Only then will we see the cultural change that’s needed in the industry come into being.”

Building Safety Workstream

In the coming months through the mechanism of the Building Safety Workstream, the Construction Leadership Council will be actively engaging with industry to promote awareness and understanding of the new regulatory regime, industry-led initiatives and core principles. The organisation is insistent that the whole supply chain must engage now and play a collective role leading towards improvement.

Andy Mitchell, CEO of Tideway and co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council, said: “The Construction Leadership Council welcomes the introduction of the Building Safety Bill and we look forward to working closely with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government as well as other relevant parties to embed the requirements of the Bill into the industry’s working practices. The Building Safety Bill is a key part of the Government’s wider reform package and, now that it’s here, everyone should seek to lead the cultural changes that are needed.”

Graham Watts, CEO of the Construction Industry Council, chair of the Competence Steering Group and co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council’s Building Safety Workstream, added: “It has been a long wait, but an essential one in order for the Government to make a set of very complex issues as well defined as possible in the Bill. I particularly welcome early sight of proposals for the detail in secondary legislation, which is going to be vital for a complete understanding of the new regime and its implications.”

Peter Caplehorn, CEO of the Construction Products Association and co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council’s Building Safety Workstream, concluded: “This is a really significant moment for the UK’s construction industry. The entire supply chain can welcome this new Bill. Along with a range of initiatives already underway which are helping to drive culture change across the industry, the legislation will provide the much-needed legal framework for reform. The new regulatory regime for construction products is a particularly important vehicle by which we can ensure better safety in the built environment. I’m sure that this will be complemented by the new Code for Construction Product Information.”

View from the RIBA and Electrical Safety First

RIBA president Alan Jones said: “Four years on from the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the introduction of the Building Safety Bill to Parliament is long overdue. Parts of the construction sector have been far too slow to change so a new regulatory system is key to securing public confidence.”

Jones continued: “We look forward to working with the new Building Safety Regulator and the Health and Safety Executive to implement effective changes. For example, we remain concerned that the proposed system does not fully address the fractured nature of current construction, procurement and contractual arrangements which lack continuity of expertise.”

Further, Jones added: “Architects’ knowledge and skills are crucial to driving up the best standards in the built environment and we will continue to work closely with the ARB to improve architectural education and professional development, in turn ensuring that new competency measures enhance rather than burden the profession. The practical details of the Building Safety Bill need urgent attention, in direct consultation with architects and other experts within the sector, as we unite through a shared ambition to instil confidence and protect public safety.”

Also commenting on the publication of the Building Safety Bill, Lesley Rudd (CEO of Electrical Safety First) said: “We are extremely disappointed with this Bill which, as it stands, fails to introduce mandatory electrical safety checks in high-rise buildings. This is a missed opportunity to better protect residents from electrical danger. Less than two months ago, a tower block in East London was badly damaged, and residents forced to flee, after a fire originated in a consumer unit.”

Rudd also stated: “High-rise living presents unique and often increased risks and the Government’s Building Safety Bill should reflect this. Many high-rise tower blocks consist of privately rented, social and owner-occupied flats and, as such, without mandatory electrical safety checks for all of the flats within a block, safety remains a lottery based on tenure.”