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Hackitt recommends new regulatory framework for Higher Risk Residential Buildings 23/05/2018 Labelled as Regulation

The Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, chaired by Dame Judith Hackitt, has recommended introduction ofa new regulatory framework to improve building safety and to rebuild trust among residents of high-rise buildings.


In her final report published on 17 May 2018, Dame Judith sets out a list of some 53 recommendations around a new regulatory framework which she says should apply in the first instance to residential properties which are 10 or more storeys high - referred to in her report as Higher Risk Residential Buildings (HRRBs).


The report and its recommendations are framed around a series of 10 themes:


  • Parameters and principles of a new regulatory framework
  • Design, construction and refurbishment
  • Occupation and maintenance
  • Residents' voice
  • Competence
  • Guidance and monitoring to support building safety
  • Products
  • Golden thread of building information
  • Procurement and supply
  • International examples


Some of the key elements of this new regulatory framework include:


  • The establishment of a new regulator - a Joint Competent Authority(JCA) comprising Local Authority Building Standards, Fire & Rescue Authorities and the Health & Safety Executive based on a full cost recovery model. (Recommendation 1.2)


  • A system ofmandatory incident reportingsimilar to that employed by the Civil Aviation Authority (Recommendation 1.4)


  • The allocation by Government of broad responsibilities to Clients, Principal Designers and Principal Contractors responsible for HRRBs (Recommendation 2.2 and Table 2).


  • The creation & maintenance of relevant information including:


  • A digital record
  • A fire & emergency file
  • Full plans; and
  • A Construction Control Plan (Recommendation 2.3)
  • A series of 3 "gateways" before occupation of any new HRRBs can commence:


  • First gateway - the Local Planning Authority should be required in law to consult with the JCAwhere it identifies that a building is a HRRB. (Recommendation 2.5)


  • Second gateway - Full Plans Approval.The JCA will undertake a thorough assessment of detailed design plans for HRRBs before giving permission for building work to commence (Recommendation 2.6)


  • Third gateway - Completion Certificate. The JCA undertakes a thorough test of the construction of HRRBs based on clear documentary evidence from the Principal Contractor and the Building Owner must complete a pre-occupation Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) and prepare a Resident Engagement Strategy (RES) all of which must be signed off by the JCA to enable occupation to commence. (Recommendation 2.7)


  • Once occupied, responsibility for the safety of all parts of a HRRB must be held by a clear, senior Dutyholderwhich should be the building owner or superior landlord. (Recommendation 3.1a) and the name and contact details of the Dutyholder must be notified to the JCA (Recommendation 3.1b)


  • The Dutyholder must nominate a named Building Safety Manager with relevant skills, knowledge and expertise to be responsible for day to day management of the building and a point of contact for the residents. The name and contact details of the Building Safety Manager must be notified to the JCA and residents and be displayed in the building (Recommendation 3.1c). 


  • The Dutyholder for a HRRB must proactively demonstrate to the JCA that they are discharging their responsibilities through a Safety Case Review conducted at regular intervals agreed with the JCA identifying hazards and risks and how they are controlled through a description of the safety management system in place. (Recommendation 3.3).


  • The Dutyholder for a HRRB must demonstrate that a Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) has been undertaken by someone with relevant skills, knowledge and experience and reviewed regularly depending on risk (Recommendation 3.4)


  • Residents should have clearer obligations in cooperating with the Dutyholder or Building Safety Manager to the extent necessary to keep the building safe for all those living there and the Dutyholder should educate, influence and ensure residents meet their obligations and the JCA should be able to intervene where there are immediate risks to persons (Recommendation 3.5).


  • For HRRBs there should be robust sanctions to drive compliance by Duty holders including ultimately criminal sanctions.


  • The Dutyholder should have a statutory duty to proactively provide residents with information that supports residents understanding of the layers of protection in place to protect the building and residents should have a right of access to FRAs , Safety Case Reviews and information on maintenance and asset management relating to the safety of their homes. (Recommendations 4.1, 4.2). In addition the Dutyholder should notify residents of any relevant notices issued by the JCA, Environmental Heath, the Fire & Rescue Service and any other regulators in relation to safety. (para 4.15)


  • The Dutyholder should have a Resident Engagement Strategy in place to outline how information will be shared with residents, how they will inform them of their rights and responsibilities and how they will involve residents in decision making about changes to the building that could impact on safety. (Recommendation 4.3). The JCA should have a mechanism for checking and enforcing against Dutyholders who fall short of the requirement to engage with residents (Para 4.22).


  • Crucially the Government should provide funding for organisations working at both local and national level to provide advice, guidance and support to residents, landlords and building owners on effective resident involvement to develop a national culture of engagement for residents of all tenures and this recommendation should not be limited to the residents of HRRBs. (Recommendation 4.4).


  • Although not a specific recommendation, the Report refers to positive examples of tenant scrutiny panels and comments that a residents' representative organisation operating on a national scalewould be an important advocate for residents in contributing to discussions with government, regulators and providers. (paras 4.2-4.7)


  • After internal processes have been exhausted there should be a clear and quick escalation and redress route availablefor residents of all tenures to an independent body. (Recommendation 4.5)


  • The professional and accreditation bodies within construction and fire safety sectors should present a proposal to government within one year including the role and remit of an overarching body to provide oversight of competence requirements. (Recommendation 5.2)


  • Relevant parties should develop and define a system for the competence requirements for the role of Building Safety Manager and role in ensuring residents in HRRBs have access to fire safety awareness training.  (Recommendation 5.4)


  • Guidance on how to meet the Building Regulations should be owned by the industry and there should be a periodic review, at least every 5 years, of the effectiveness of the overall system. (Recommendations 6.1, 6.2)


  • Dame Judith's report does not specifically recommend the banning of non-combustible material but recommends that a clearer, more transparent and more effective specification and testing regime of construction products must be developed with clear statements on what systems products can and cannot be used for, with significantly reduced scope for substitution of any products used in a system without further full testing. (Recommendation 7.1)  


  • Manufacturers must retest products that are critical to the safety of HRRBs at least every three years (Recommendation 7.2)


  • The construction products industry should work together to develop and agree a consistent labelling and traceability system for products (Recommendation 7.5)


  • For HRRBs, principal contractors and clients should devise contracts that specifically state that safety requirements must not be compromised for cost reductions (Recommendation 9.1)


Significantly the report also highlights a number of the recommendations which Dame Judith recommends the government should consider applying the requirement to other multi-occupancy residential buildings.


The Report does not attempt to set out the costs or wider resource implications associated with the proposed new regulatory framework although the recommendations will require additional actions from those building and owning & managing HRRBs but says that research from the USA suggests where a digital record is utilised net savings in the region of 5% in the cost of construction of newly built projects are possible.


Read full report: Building a Safer Future: Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report


The Government have responded to Dame Judith's Report and in a statement to Parliament on 17 May 2018 the Housing Secretary, James Brokenshire, supported the principles behind the report's recommendations saying:


"Dame Judith is clear that the current system - developed over many years and successive governments - is not fit for purpose.


She is calling for major reform and a change of culture, with the onus more clearly on everyone involved to manage the risks they create at every stage and government doing more to set and enforce high standards.


This government agrees with that assessment and supports the principles behind the report's recommendations for a new system.


We agree with the call for greater clarity and accountability over who is responsible for building safety during the construction, refurbishment and on-going management of high-rise homes.


The Hackitt review has shown that in too many cases people who should be accountable for fire safety have failed in their duties.


I am committing today to bring forward legislation that delivers meaningful and lasting change and gives residents a much stronger voice in an improved system of fire safety."


He went on to say that in addition to a previously announced consultation on use of desktop studies, the Government would also now consult on banning the use of combustible materials in cladding systems on high-rise residential buildings and will continue work with industry to clarify Building Regulations fire safety guidance, and will publish this for consultation in July.


Read the Housing Secretary's full statement to Parliament in response to Dame Judith's report.

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