The Building Safety Bill
The Building Safety Bill will propose the establishment of a Building Safety Regulator (BSR) to oversee a new regulatory regime for the design, construction and occupation of higher risk buildings. It will also propose a “gateway” process which will ensure compliance with the fire safety Building Regulations at each of the principal stages of a build:
- Gateway 1: the design phase – applicants will have to demonstrate that the planning application incorporates thinking on fire safety
- Gateway 2: the technical design and construction phase – construction will not be allowed to begin until the BSR has approved the building control application
- Gateway 3: occupation will not be allowed until the BSR has undertaken a final inspection and has issued a completion certificate.
The BSR will define “higher risk buildings” but the Government steer is that they should be limited to multi-storey residential buildings.
The Government should use the Bill to make buildings more resilient to fire so that all building types of the future are safer and sustainable and so to reduce the £9 billion annual cost of fire. This can be done by making a proportionate consideration of property protection (alongside life safety) a requirement of the Fire Safety Building Regulations.
This can be achieved by:
- Using the Building Safety Bill to amend Section 1 of the Building Act to provide the Secretary of State the power to make Regulations to facilitate the protection of property
- Amending the Building Regulations to apply/limit the power in a proportionate manner for the purposes of fire safety
- Revising the ADB Guidance based on a proportionate consideration of property protection alongside life safety in order to provide the detail of required fire safety design measures for the various purpose groups/building types.
This approach will provide the Government a legally enforceable but flexible system for fire safety building design which will allow the building of safer and more sustainable buildings and so lead to significantly fewer large, dangerous and expensive fires.