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Home>Fire>Risk Assessment>October brings “major milestones” for building safety in England

October brings “major milestones” for building safety in England

16 October 2023

THE NEXT significant phase of the Building Safety Regulator’s regulatory programme came into force on 1 October. Mandated under the landmark Building Safety Act 2022, which represents the “biggest change in building safety” in decades, a series of important milestones in the establishment of the Building Safety Regulator are now in effect.

As previously reported by Fire Safety Matters, the Building Safety Regulator is now the building control body for building work involving higher-risk buildings. The registration of such structures is now mandatory. Further, registers are now open for building control inspectors and building control approvers alike.

The Building Safety Regulator is now the building control authority for all higher-risk buildings in England. This means that developers will no longer be able to choose the building control body they use for building work on residential buildings that are over 18 metres high (or seven storeys) with at least two residential units, as well as hospitals and care homes that meet the same height threshold.

The Building Safety Regulator will assess applications for higher-risk buildings, while building work itself cannot commence until approval has been granted by the Building Safety Regulator.

Building approval process

The new building approval process – also known as Gateway Two – follows on from the introduction of Planning Gateway One in August 2021. Under existing planning law, this established the Health and Safety Executive as a statutory consultee for certain high-rise building developments.

Planning Gateway One ensures that fire safety considerations are inherent within the design proposals of these buildings before planning permission is granted.

A third gateway now also applies at the point of completion of a higher-risk building project before it can be occupied. Higher-risk buildings can only be occupied after the Building Safety Regulator has issued the building with a building control certificate.

Crucially, as well as the changes to the higher-risk buildings regime, anyone appointed to undertake any type of building work in England will be required to demonstrate competence in their work and compliance with the new legislation as well as the existing Building Regulations.

From this month, all building control inspectors and approvers will need to register with the Building Safety Regulator ahead of the profession becoming regulated in April 2024. The Building Safety Regulator has already published the building inspector competence framework and approved three independent assessment schemes. Building inspectors will need to undergo assessment under one of these schemes in order to demonstrate their competence before they are then able to register.

Unprecedented change in thinking

Philip White, director of building safety and construction at the Health and Safety Executive, commented: “October witnessed a major step forward in the Building Safety Regulator’s regulatory programme and a new era for building safety, which places residents’ safety at its heart. This new era represents an unprecedented change in thinking around safety standards and regulatory adherence. We are ensuring tighter regulations and improved oversight, while in parallel promoting competence among individuals and organisations across the entirety of the built environment.”

White continued: “Those responsible for higher-risk buildings have registered them with us, providing crucial information which will help in keeping the residents of these buildings safe. The registers for building inspectors and building control approvers also open this month and we‘re encouraging building control professionals to undergo assessment as soon as possible ahead of registration becoming mandatory from April 2024.”

Further, White noted: “We continue to work in collaboration with built environment professionals across all industry sectors to ensure everyone has real clarity and understanding on what good practice around compliance and competence looks like. That said, the future of building safety is in all our hands. It now comes down to everyone in the industry to put the necessary measures in place in order to deliver on their legal obligations. Industry needs to step up now and lead the way.”

Interested parties can access the building control application service and registers for inspectors and approvers by using the following links:

*Manage a building control application for a higher-risk building – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

*Read the building inspector competence framework

*Register as a building inspector

*Register as a building control approver