November 5, 2019

Government announces plans to strengthen construction safety regulations

News Article

The Government has confirmed that it intends to press ahead with a raft of new legislation designed to improve building safety standards.

The announcement, made in the recent Queen’s Speech to Parliament, proposes to create new laws, which were initially outlined in June this year.

The new safety standards include the creation of a new Building Safety Regulator which would oversee safety compliance by contractors, designers and building-owners.

According to the draft legislation, responsibility for a building’s safety would, in the future, be shared between at least five different parties, including the principal contractor.

The move follows the independent review of building regulations by Dame Judith Hackett following the Grenfell Tower disaster and is intended to provide a clearer chain of accountability and duties – from a building’s initial design, through to its construction and final use.

It is expected that the legislation will also include stiffer sanctions for non-compliance.

In response to the announcement, Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “The public needs to have confidence in high-rise residential buildings, and in the framework that government has been working on.

“As with other legislation, however, it is only as good as the resource that is put into making any new system workable.”

Adam Davis, a Partner with Palmers, who specialises in construction and engineering law, said: “The planned changes to legislation have resulted from the Grenfell Tower enquiry and the clear need to reassure the public that high rise residential buildings are inherently safe.

“However, the implementation of enhanced building safety standards will inevitably change the way everyone involved in the constructing and engineering sectors approaches compliance.

“We await the finer details of the new Bill with interest but in the meantime, anyone operating in the sector should take this opportunity to ensure that they are already compliant with the existing laws, as the penalties for breaching these can be substantial.”

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