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“The devil’s in the detail and it’s missing” states RIBA in response to Building Safety Bill
28 September 2020
THE ROYAL Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has responded to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee’s Call for Evidence as scrutiny of the draft Building Safety Bill begins. While the RIBA welcomes the intention of the Bill to provide long-overdue power to amend the Building Regulations – including requiring building safety ‘duties’ to be carried out on all projects – the organisation harbours “fundamental concerns” about the delegation of duties and scope of the future regulatory system.
In its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill, the RIBA urges the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee to ensure that:
*equal emphasis of responsibility is placed on all duty holders, not just the principal designer and principal contractor, in order to ensure safety is embedded throughout a given project
*new statutory duties can be delivered regardless of the project’s procurement route, including projects procured through ‘Design and Build’ where the principal designer and principal contractor roles may be provided by the same organisation
*duty holders are in place for the Gateway 1 planning application such that clients are required to appoint competent designers and a principal designer
*Permitted Development schemes pass through the Gateway 1 regulatory submission so that key building safety design parameters are met at this stage and competent duty holders are in place
*a reduction of the height threshold to 11 metres and a widening of the scope of the definition of ‘higher-risk buildings’ at the outset such that the new regime also applies to non-residential buildings including hospitals, care homes, hospices, schools, hotels, hostels, guesthouses and prisons during the design and construction phases
*the Bill does not disrupt progress of the urgent review of Approved Document B to provide the industry with clear, unambiguous guidance
Jane Duncan, chair of the RIBA Fire Safety Group, explained: “The draft Building Safety Bill provides mechanisms to facilitate future regulatory change but, over two years on from the Hackitt Review, it’s still a long way from where it needs to be.”
Further, Duncan observed: “The devil’s in the detail and that’s exactly what‘s missing. We need clarification around the roles and responsibilities of ‘duty holders’, measures to ensure Permitted Development schemes are fire-safe and an appropriate definition of a ‘high-risk building’ because fire does not discriminate.”
The RIBA is urging the Government to take note of its concerns and “eagerly awaits” clarification on secondary legislation. “The longer this process continues, the longer people remain at risk,” concluded Duncan.