The Government issued a consultation paper on 6 June 2019
setting out proposals for a new regulatory system for high rise
buildings. The proposals in the consultation paper will have far
reaching consequences for stock-retained councils as owners and
managers of high-rise residential buildings and potentially
commissioners of any new high-rise buildings and will impose
significant new and onerous responsibilities on councils as
landlords and building owners. The proposals will also give tenants
and residents of high-rise residential buildings new rights and
The proposed new regulations may also be extended over time to
other residential buildings including supported housing and
Following the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 the Government
commissioned an Independent Review of Building Regulation and Fire
Safety led by Dame Judith Hackitt, which found that
there are issues with the way some high-rise residential buildings
are built, managed and looked after. Her review also found that
sometimes residents are not confident that their buildings are safe
and have been unable to get their concerns taken seriously.
To address the issues identified in Dame Judith's report, the
Government has now published a consultation on a set of policy
proposals to improve the fire and structural safety of high-rise
residential buildings. The Government says that these proposals
will help shape changes in the law that will help to make sure
high-rise residential buildings are safe to live in and residents
are able to have their voices heard.
This consultation sets out how the Government plans to overhaul
the regulatory system for high rise residential buildings
- Clearer responsibilities for those building or managing these
- A stronger voice in the system and better information for
- Greater oversight by regulators; and
- Tougher enforcement when things go wrong.
Chapter 1of the consultation paper sets out what the Government
has already done and is currently doing to make buildings
Chapter 2of the consultation paper describes which buildings
these new changes and improvements will affect.
Dame Judith Hackitt's Independent Review recommended applying
new requirements for buildings over 10 storeys, but the Government
proposes a wider scope because of the numbers of fires in these
buildings and the risk to people's safety.
The consultation paper proposes that the new building safety
regime will be for buildings that are:
- Lived in by multiple households; and
- 18 metres high (6 storeys) or more.
Home Office research shows that fire incidents in buildings
where people sleep which are not residential can be high, for
example in prisons, hospitals, supported/sheltered housing and
educational buildings. So, the Government wants to design a
regulatory system so that over time, additional buildings, for
example buildings where vulnerable people sleep, may be
Chapter 3of the consultation paper describes what the Government
wants to do to make sure there are clear
designated"dutyholders"looking after buildings at all stages - from
when they are being designed and built to when people are living in
The "dutyholders" are the people who will be legally responsible
for ensuring the building is designed and built to be safe for its
Part A of chapter 3 of the consultation paper proposes
introducing 5 designated "dutyholders" who will be responsible for
the safety of a building when it is being designed and built,
including ensuring that building regulations are complied with. It
sets out a clear set of responsibilities that they need to meet to
show how they are making buildings safe.Building regulationswill
set out the minimum standards that buildings and building works
must meet to make sure they are safe. Part A of chapter 3
- Making sure that there are a clear set of dutyholders involved
in the design and build of buildings so that there is clear
- Dutyholders will be responsible for ensuring that building
regulations - the minimum standards a building must meet - are
- Dutyholders will to be required to show that they are managing
risks at 3 new'gateway points'before they can continue with the
different stages of the building process.
- Gateway 1 - before planning permission can be given, the
"dutyholder" will need to submit a'fire statement'and the regulator
will consult the Fire and Rescue Authority to make sure fire safety
is considered early on.
- Gateway 2 - before construction can begin, the "dutyholder"
will need to show how the building has been designed to be safe and
follows building regulations by providing full plans and supporting
- Gateway 3 - before anyone can move into the building, the
"dutyholder" will need to hand over building safety information
about the completed building. They will need to apply for and
receive a provisional registration of the building and tell the
regulator that building risks have been assessed and arrangements
are in place to make sure the building is managed safely while
people are living there.
Part B of chapter 3 of the consultation paper sets out how
an'accountable person'should look after higher risk buildings once
people have moved in and what their responsibilities are. The
'accountable person' is the person legally responsible for the fire
and structural safety of a building when people are living in it.
- Creating a new 'accountable person' role who will be the
dutyholder responsible for making sure that building fire and
structural safety risks are reduced as much as reasonably
practicable when people are living in the building.
- Dutyholders will create a'safety case'which contains all the
important information about a building that shows how the
dutyholders are managing any fire or structural risks on an ongoing
- The accountable person may also employ a'Building Safety
Manager'who has the right skills and expertise to look after the
building. Their role would be to help the accountable person by
doing the day-to-day work involved with keeping a building safe.
E.g. the Building Safety Manager would be there to deal with any
safety problems they find or are reported by residents in the
block(s) they are responsible for.
Part C of chapter 3 sets out how the Government will ensure that
buildings are safe throughout their lifecycle. At all stages of a
building's lifecycle - from when it's designed and built, to when
people are living in it, someone will be responsible for managing
and minimising fire and structural risks. Part C sets out the
duties that run through the building's life cycle and proposes:
- The dutyholder to be responsible for"the golden thread"of
building information ensuring it is created, maintained and held
digitally throughout the building life cycle to support safety
improvements. In addition, the consultation paper proposes that key
information such as building type/purpose, size and years built,
should be held in a specified format so the regulator can easily
access key information.
- A system of 'mandatory occurrence reporting' to the regulator
which will ensure that the client, principal designer, principal
contractor and accountable person must ensure that anyone involved
in the construction of a building can report fire and structural
- The new system will make sure that all dutyholders employ
people who are suitably qualified and competent in applying the
necessary skills, knowledge and behaviors to make informed
decisions and carry out their job effectively.
Chapter 4of the consultation paper describes how the Government
intends to empower residents by giving them the right safety
information about their building and making sure that they can
raise any views or concerns about the safety of their building and
not be ignored and the accountable person in an occupied high-rise
building will have specific duties to residents.
The proposals in the consultation paper will give residents a
stronger voice and allow them to hold those responsible for the
safety of their buildings to account. Residents will be empowered
by having better access to information about their building and
have more of a say over decisions made about the fire and
structural safety of their building:
- The accountable person (the person with overall responsibility
for the safety of the building) must provide residents with the
information they need so that they understand the protections in
place to keep their building safe from structural or fire
- Residents will also be able to access more detailed information
about building and fire safety by requesting it from the
accountable person. The accountable person will only be able to
refuse to provide information for specified reasons (e.g. that
sharing the information would be a security risk or would divulge
- The accountable person must have a "Resident Engagement
Strategy"which sets out the way that they are going to engage with
residents and how residents can get involved and benefit from
participating in engagement on building safety.
- The consultation paper proposes a clear obligation on residents
to co-operate with the work of the accountable person to keep the
building safe and are asking for views on the obligation and what
safeguards would be needed.
- To make sure that residents can raise safety concerns, the
accountable person will need to have a clear process for how they
will respond to residents' concerns.
- Residents will be able to take urgent safety concerns to the
new regulator if the accountable person fails to deal with them
Chapter 5of the consultation paper sets out how the Government
will make sure that there is effective oversight of the regulatory
system by creating a"building safety regulator". This regulator
will be responsible for making sure everyone follows the new
regulations, and that those responsible for buildings have the
right skills and knowledge for the job. It will also have oversight
of building safety across England.
The new building safety regulator would be responsible at a
national level for:
- Oversight of building safety and wider regulation;
- Oversight of operation and enforcement of the new regime for
high rise residential buildings, and setting guidance;
- Advising government on what buildings should be included in the
scope of the new regime, by developing and analysing evidence on
- Oversight of competence of people working on buildings,
including keeping a register of those competent to take on key
dutyholder roles in the new system and providing guidance on where
to find qualified people to work on buildings in scope.
The consultation paper also proposes stronger regulation of
construction products by:
- Making manufacturers' responsibilities clearer in legislation,
focusing on construction products that are critical to safety, and
requiring clear labelling and information so that it is clear how
the product should be used safely;
- Strengthening national regulation of construction products,
with a national complaints system and a stronger focus on
enforcement, so that problems are dealt with effectively; and
- Setting minimum standards for independent assurance schemes and
encouraging their use, so people can be confident that construction
products meet the standards manufacturers claim.
The Government is also proposing that the whole regulatory
system is independently reviewed to make sure that it is working
Chapter 6of the consultation paper sets out proposals to make
sure those working on buildings follow the requirements and where
that doesn't happen that there is an effective way to hold them to
account, including sanctions to punish those who don't follow
The consultation paper proposes to:
- Createnew criminal offencesto make sure that those responsible
for the safety of a high-rise residential building during the
design and construction of the building, as well as when residents
are living in the building, comply with their
- Give the new regulator the power to take quick and effective
action, throughmonetary penaltiessuch as fines, when the
requirements of the new regime have not been met.
The Government is also proposing to make it easier to take
action for all buildings where building work does not meet required
building regulations standards by:
- Giving local authorities more time to serve enforcement
notices, so that they can take action where problems are uncovered
- Enabling private individuals to make a claim for damages where
work on a building has not met building regulations standards, and
they have suffered harm as a result.
The consultation paper "Building a Safer Future: proposals for reform of
the building safety regulatory system" can be downloaded
from the Government website.
The Government has also produced a "quick read guide" summarising the
Residents, building owners, the construction industry and the
fire safety sector are all encouraged to make their voices heard by
participating in the consultation and
helping shape the future of building and fire safety to make sure
residents are safe and feel safe in their homes.
The closing date for responses to the consultation paper is 31
July 2019. The ARCH Board and ARCH Tenant Group will be considering
the proposals in the consultation paper and we invite ARCH member
councils to submit their views and comments to ARCH Policy Adviser
Matthew Warburton Matthew.email@example.com
to help inform the ARCH response to the consultation paper.
The Home Office has also launched a call for evidence on the Regulatory Reform (Fire
Safety) Order 2005 in England. The call for evidence is
the first part of a process to ensure that the Fire Safety Order is
fit for purpose for all buildings it regulates.