The legislation comes five years after the Grenfell Tower fire, which revealed that the building industry was unable to regulate itself and exposed the widespread practice of using flammable cladding systems on tall buildings.
Officially coming into existence today are two new regulatory offices: the building safety regulator; and the national regulator for construction products.
The building safety regulator – overseen by the Health & Safety Executive – will enforce a new regulatory regime on the safety and performance of multi-occupancy high-rise buildings in England. It will also consult and respond to safety concerns raised by residents through a new residents’ panel.
The national regulator for construction products – already known in some quarters as the cladding police – will implement standards on construction manufacturers in the UK. Part of the Office for Product Safety & Standards, it will conduct market surveillance to spot and remove unsafe materials, as well as take action against those that break the rules.
The new legislation also protect leaseholders from the cost of replacing flammable cladding systems. Those responsible for historical safety defects, and those who own buildings, are instead now required to fund essential repairs.
Measures in the act include new powers for the relevant secretary of state (traditionally the environment secretary, but these days the ‘levelling up’ secretary) to restrict the ability of errant developers’ to build new homes, an extension of the building safety levy worth an estimated £3bn and improving building owners’ rights to launch legal action against developers.
Some 45 of the UK’s biggest housing developers have agreed to fix life-critical fire-safety defects on all buildings of, or higher than, 11 metre that they have played a role in developing or refurbishing in the last 30 years.
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