In July 2020 the Government published the draft Building Safety Bill with the lofty aim of comprehensively transforming building safety standards in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy to “Put in place new and enhanced regulatory regimes for building safety and construction products, and ensure residents have a stronger voice in the system.”
The Building Safety Regulator
The Government has confirmed that the Health and Safety Executive will establish a new Building Safety Regulator, something which was first suggested by Dame Judith Hackett (ex-HSE Chief Executive) in her post-Grenfell report.
The HSE describes this new Regulator’s responsibility as overseeing:
“the safe design, construction and occupation of high-risk buildings so that residents are safe and feel safe. It will be independent and give expert advice to local regulators, landlords and building owners, the construction and building design industry, and to residents.”
The new Regulator’s role will include:
- implementing a new, more stringent regulatory regime for high-risk residential buildings;
- promoting competence among industry professionals and regulators to raise standards in design, construction and the management of buildings; and
- overseeing performance systems of all buildings, so that one regulator can provide guidance on building performance as well as building safety, ensuring that factors like countering climate change are factored into regulatory decisions.
The new Regulator will have powers to take enforcement action and impose sanctions on parties who do not fulfil their regulatory obligations. See the HSE web page.
Sanctions under the Building Safety Bill
The time limit for bringing a prosecution for breach of the Building Regulations will increase from 2 years to 10 years.
The new Building Safety Regulator will have a suite of enforcement powers including:
- stop notices for live construction projects which are in breach.
- compliance notices to compel accountable persons to fix issues by a set date.
- ban or remove building control bodies from the inspector's register.
- prosecution for corporate entities for breach as well as directors/officers personally if the breach was through their “consent or connivance”.