Designing and building a high rise residential building


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The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published its response to last year's public consultation on the Building a Safer Future report, taking into account 900 responses received from industry stakeholders.

The Government confirms that a new Building Safety Bill will be tabled this year, though there are no firm timescales for either the Bill or when the new regime will take effect – although Dame Judith Hackitt has said that we "need to get on with it" and start implementing her recommendations ahead of the legislation.

The new regime will cover all multi-occupied residential buildings of more than six storeys or 18 metres, whichever is reached first. The scope will be extended in due course to other types of tenanted buildings, based on "emerging risk evidence".

As expected, the new national Building Safety Regulator will sit within the Health & Safety Executive (currently designated as the shadow Regulator), and report to the Secretary of State for Housing. A new Chief Inspector of Buildings will be appointed, and the Regulator will be supported by fire and rescue services, local authority building control, the Health and Safety Executive, a register of Approved Inspectors and external consultants.

The new regime will adopt the CDM-style list of Dutyholder roles, which has had general support from consultees. "Designer" and "Contractor" roles have been clarified as including those who manage designers and contractors. The Government promises further guidance for Dutyholders to identify appropriate Accountable Persons within their organisations.

In a significant change to the proposals, all three Gateways will apply to 18 metre/six storey buildings, extending the scope of Gateway 1 from its original coverage of buildings of 30 metres or more. For Gateway 2, which must be achieved prior to the design and construction phase, Clients must ensure that the Principal Contractor and Principal Designer demonstrate the necessary competence to discharge their duties effectively. The Regulator will be able to permit staged approvals for complex projects, provided that the safety case can be demonstrated. To progress to Gateway 3, the Client, Principal Designer and Principal Contractor will be required to co-sign a declaration confirming that the building complies with building regulations to the best of their knowledge.

The Response sets out further detail on the requirements for the Safety Case, which must be maintained throughout the design and construction and occupation of in-scope buildings. The "golden thread" of building information must be maintained digitally and made accessible to key stakeholders. While the Government has not yet mandated Building Information Modelling (BIM) for the new regime, most respondents agreed that BIM should be used.

Refurbishments that could impact on fire or structural safety will need to be notified to the Regulator, though works not subject to the building regulations can commence before the Regulator has given its consent. The Government will unveil a phased transition period for existing in-scope buildings later in the year. Accountable Persons will be required to produce a safety case report before the end of each transitional stage. MHCLG, the HSE and local regulators will work with stakeholders to ensure "a smooth transition" to the new regime.

Further details and guidance will have to wait until the Government tables the new Bill.
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