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Bureau Veritas urges developers to prepare for “major” regulation shake-up

13 September 2021

BUILDING CONTROL and regulation expert Bureau Veritas has welcomed the publication of the Building Safety Bill and its 53 recommendations to drive cultural change and safety improvements within the industry, hailing it as a “crucial step” in overhauling the building safety system in England and Wales.

Introduced to Parliament in July, the Building Safety Bill will establish a new building safety regime and follows recommendations set out in the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety conducted by Dame Judith Hackitt. It’s the next step in reforms designed to make homes in England and Wales safer and to give residents and homeowners more rights, powers and protections. It will overhaul prior regulations and set out a clear pathway on how residential buildings should be constructed, maintained and made safe.

The Building Safety Bill is expected to gain Royal Assent in early 2022, with the full regime implemented by 2023. It introduces a three-stage ‘Gateway’ process to improve fire safety standards.

Despite the Bill currently passing through Parliament, Gateway One came into force on 1 August, meaning that building developers will need to meet new regulations now, with the submission of a fire statement for all high-rise residential planning applications required from hereon in.

Ahead of the curve

In line with Dame Judith Hackitt’s recommendations that the industry should not wait for legislation to begin to implement change, Bureau Veritas Building Control UK is urging developers to put themselves “ahead of the curve” by evolving their building control strategies to meet the requirements of not just Gateway One, but also Gateway Two and Gateway Three by thinking beyond the initial mandatory fire statement and preparing for change as the Building Safety Bill passes through Parliament.

Andy Lowe, technical and training director for building control at Bureau Veritas, said: “The introduction of the Building Safety Bill is, without a doubt, the biggest transformation in the building regulation system in our lifetime. Its publication some three years after the Hackitt review process is a major milestone in reforming building safety regulations. We’re pleased to see the introduction of Gateway One.”

Thread of information

Lowe continued: “One of the most significant measures coming into effect as part of the Building Safety Bill is the introduction of the three-stage ‘Gateway’ process, which is designed to create a ‘golden thread’ of information to be kept for the lifetime of a building. While a building control certificate used to be provided at the end of a project, the intention now is that risks will be monitored at each stage of a build programme, which starts right at the planning phase. It’s worth noting that this process will be regulated by a newly-appointed Building Safety Regulator. The latter must sign-off each ‘Gateway’ before progressing to the next phase.”

In conclusion, Lowe observed: “While the Building Safety Bill sets out a clear framework for the design, construction and management of high-rise residential buildings, the processes involved and the new regulations are complex. We would urge developers to consider appointing an independent third party competent person who can work together with the organisation to meet ‘Gateway’-centric requirements head-on, thereby ensuring a smooth process towards regulatory compliance.”

*To support the industry in understanding the detail of the Building Safety Bill and the requirements for now and into the future, Bureau Veritas is hosting a free webinar entitled ‘Understanding the Building Safety Bill’ on Wednesday 15 September. Register here: https://bit.ly/3jZyUcH