Building Safety update
12 February 2024
With the advent of the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) under the Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA), and the phased adoption of the BSA’s provisions in April and October 2023, the groundwork and foundations for the new building safety regime have been established. The mandate under the BSA is to ensure duty holders are competent and take all reasonable steps to reduce the risk of fire spread or structural failure. The Government has also cited 2024 as a further year of ‘transformative step change,’ as the BSR continues to educate the industry on how it must comply.
The industry Competence Steering Group (CSG) set up by the Government’s Industry Response Group shortly after the Grenfell Tower fire has recently published its third and final report, named “A Higher Bar – Achieving a Competence-led Built Environment.”
- provides an overview of the progress made by the CSG and its 12 working groups, each from key areas of expertise such as designers, fire risk assessors and safety regulators, installers, site supervisors and project managers, building control and construction products
- highlights further British Standards that are in development and the forthcoming publication of “the List”, which is intended as a tool to assist less sophisticated organisations in complying with the new competence regime
- updates on the formation of the Building Safety Alliance from the original working group of Building Safety Managers. The Alliance has secured funding to establish itself as a charitable incorporated organisation during the first quarter of 2024. Its focus is to provide a cross-sector forum for those that live in, work and/or provide services to occupied residential buildings
- explains how the CSG will become an independent sub-group of the BSR’s Industry Competence Committee and will be renamed the Industry Competence Steering Committee (ICSG). Notably, the CSG’s working groups will continue to operate independently, under the leadership of the relevant industry sector to which their work relates. It is hoped that the continuation of the CSG in its new form will ensure a crucial legacy of cross-sector cooperation.
The report is timely because April 2024 will be a key month for building safety regulation as the registration requirements for building control inspectors and approvers, together with the operational standards rules introduced in April 2023 will become mandatory. The new practices, procedures and performance standards will be underpinned by key performance indicators and other arrangements for monitoring building control bodies by the BSR.
In other news, the Government has published its response to its most recent consultation on the Building Safety Levy, which is intended to raise funds with which to tackle historic remediation issues. We now know that the levy will be payable by residential developers in a single tranche to local authorities, in default of which a Building Control completion certificate cannot be issued. Notably the levy will apply to all new residential development on a square metreage basis, save for certain policy driven exemptions such as for developments of affordable housing, and (to protect SMEs) developments of fewer than 10 units. There will also be a 50% reduction for ‘brownfield’ developments. The levy will be reviewed on a three year basis. A further consultation will conclude on 20 February relating to technical considerations for how the levy will be calculated and collected, how disputes will be managed and certain further exemptions.
The work that the CSG has been doing is the first project to galvanise so much support from across so many organisations, professional and trade bodies. In tandem with ongoing education and enforcement by the BSR, and also by tackling remediation issues, the aim is to achieve cultural shift change and help restore trust in the built environment. We will be updating further on the BSA at the forthcoming Essex Construction Alliance event at the Billericay Football Club on 27 February 2024.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at February 2024.