Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: interim report published

Monday, December 18th, 2017 - DCLG

A “universal shift in culture” is required to rebuild trust amongst residents of high-rise buildings and significantly improve the way that fire safety is assured, the Chair of an independent review into building regulations and fire safety has found.

Dame Judith Hackitt, who was appointed by government to lead the independent review following the Grenfell fire, has today (18 December 2017) published her interim findings. Following a call for evidence, over 250 responses were submitted and there have been a series of round-table discussions with industry representatives, professional bodies, tenants and landlord organisations and residents’ groups.

Alongside her interim report, Dame Judith is calling on the construction industry, building owners, regulators and government to come together to address the ‘shortcomings’ identified so far.

The interim report finds that:

  • a culture change is required – with industry taking greater responsibility for what is built – this change needs to start now
  • the current system for ensuring fire safety in high-rise buildings is not fit for purpose
  • a clear, quick and effective route for residents to raise concerns and be listened to, must be created

Chair of the review, Dame Judith Hackitt said:

I have found that the regulatory system for safely designing, constructing and managing buildings is not fit for purpose. The current system is highly complex and there is confusion about the roles and responsibilities at each stage. In many areas there is a lack of competence and accreditation.

While this does not mean all buildings are unsafe, it does mean we need to build a more effective system for the future. That is why I am today calling for the construction industry, building owners, regulators and government to come together to identify how to overcome these shortcomings together.

I have been deeply affected by the residents of high rise buildings I have met and I have learned so much from them. These buildings are their homes and their communities. They are proud of where they live, but their trust in the system has been badly shaken by events of the last few months. We need to rebuild that trust“.

The interim report sets out 6 broad areas for change:

  • ensuring that regulation and guidance is risk-based, proportionate and unambiguous
  • clarifying roles and responsibilities for ensuring that buildings are safe
  • improving levels of competence within the industry
  • improving the process, compliance and enforcement of regulations
  • creating a clear, quick and effective route for residents’ voices to be heard and listened to
  • improving testing, marketing and quality assurance of products used in construction

Dame Judith has consulted widely in developing her interim report and will continue to do so in the coming months before making her final recommendations.

The independent review will now undertake its second phase of work – including targeted work in partnership with the sector and other stakeholders. A summit involving government and representatives from the building industry will take place in the New Year and a final report will be published in spring 2018.

Speaking in Parliament earlier today, Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State, DCLG said:

Today Dame Judith has published her interim findings, which show there is a need for significant reform. And I can confirm that the government has accepted all of Dame Judith’s recommendations.

We agree with her call for a change in culture and a more effective system that will encourage people to do the right thing and hold to account those who try to cut corners. Everyone who is part of the system – including government – has an important role to play in delivering this change in culture and mind set“.

The Secretary of State indicated work will start on revising the Building Regulations Approved Document on Fire Safety and commission work to produce a new British Standard on when and how such assessments can be used.

He urged the construction industry, the building control bodies, the fire and rescue services, landlords and others to play their parts too and said a summit on building regulation and fire safety in January 2018 would act as a springboard for the next phase of the review.

The Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety interim report have be found here.

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