Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Review of Building Regulations Update: Terms of Reference Announced by Dame Judith Hackitt

The BESA have already welcomed the announcement of the independent review into the Building Regulations, to be led by Dame Judith Hackitt, and are preparing our contribution and recommendations in collaboration with our members. With the results of the seven systems tests, conducted by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), complete and published attention can now turn to the other crucial areas that need to be examined.

We have highlighted a number of systemic failures in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, and today Dame Judith has published the terms of reference for the Review into the existing regulations and their effectiveness.

The terms of reference have proposed a twofold outcome of the review:

1 - Make recommendations to ensure we have a sufficiently robust regulatory system for the future

2 - Provide further assurance to residents that the complete system is working to ensure buildings are safe

The Review will draw upon international experience of regulatory frameworks, allowing for a more complete examination of UK regulations, while also noting the experience of other industries where exceptional events can lead to the risk of fire and large scale fatality. In reaching its conclusions and recommendations the Review will:

  • map the current regulatory system (i.e. the regulations, guidance and processes) as it applies to new and existing buildings through planning, design, construction, maintenance, refurbishment and change management;
  • consider the competencies, duties and balance of responsibilities of key individuals within the system in ensuring that fire safety standards are adhered to;
  • assess the theoretical coherence of the current regulatory system and how it operates in practice
  • compare this with other international regulatory systems for buildings and regulatory systems in other sectors with similar safety risks;
  • make recommendations that ensure the regulatory system is fit for purpose with a particular focus on multi-occupancy high-rise residential buildings.

The Review has emphasised the importance of input and gathering evidence from relevant stakeholders as well as working closely with Government Departments. The Terms of Reference note that eventual recommendations can include ‘changes or clarifications required’ to any part of the system or ‘recommendations for further work Government needs to carry out.’

This is the most substantive opportunity that there has been for a very long time to examine, recommend and enact meaningful change to the Building Regulations and in doing so it will also consider the implications of changes on wider policy areas, including the housing crisis and rent levels.

The Review will be held concurrently and in parallel with the Public Inquiry, led by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, and will submit its interim report to Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid and Home Secretary Amber Rudd in Autumn this year with the report to be released in Spring of 2018.

The Government have said that they will work closely with Dame Judith to identify any changes, recommended in the eventual final report, which could be implemented during the evidence gathering period and before the Review’s final submission. The report will be laid before Parliament with the Government’s response expected shortly after.

Secretary of State Javid’s Expert Panel will shortly be producing a summary paper with advice for building owners, the contents of which may be relevant to Dame Judith’s Review.

The full Terms of Reference can be seen here, and any BESA members that wish to contribute towards BESA’s submission should contact Technical Director, Tim Rook. The first BESA meeting to examine the Review will be held on Tuesday 5 September.  

Share this post