The Property and Asset Manager and the Compliance and Cyclical Servicing Manager gave the Board a presentation on the Building Safety Act and the impact on housing.
Following the Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June 2017 in which 72 people died and more than 70 were injured the Prime Minister announced that a public inquiry would be set up. This began on 14 September 2014 and the findings from the first report were released in October 2019. A second phase to investigate the broader causes began on 14 June 2020.
As a result of the fire and subsequent testing of aluminium composite material cladding from similar buildings across the country the Government commissioned an independent review of the building regulations and fire safety on 28 July 2017. Its purpose was to make recommendations that would ensure a sufficiently robust regulatory system for the future and that residents felt that the buildings they lived in were safe and remained so. The review concluded that the whole system needed major reform and that residents’ safety needed to be a greater priority through the entire life cycle of a building. The Government accepted the recommendations and published the draft Building Safety Bill in July 2020, due to come into force in late 2021. The Bill brought forward a more stringent regulatory regime focused on fire and structural safety, which defined roles and responsibilities and a new dedicated Building Safety Regulator which was part of the Health and Safety Executive.
The recommendations for the Bill were:
· Stringent regime for the fire safety in higher risk buildings.
· Regime to monitor performance of the building from design stage to occupation.
· Cross cutting legislation and reform of building regulations and guidance.
· New Homes Ombudsman.
· Easier access to the Housing Ombudsman.
· A more transparent testing regime.
· Increasing tenants’ voice.
Everyone within the Council had a responsibility for reporting any fire concerns, including the HRB. Within housing, the duty holder was the Chief Executive. The accountable person would be the Strategic Lead or Service Lead. The Building Safety Manager was appointed by the accountable person and approved by the building safety regulator to deliver the day to day functions on behalf of the accountable person. Residents of buildings in scope of the new regime would be given duties to cooperate with the Building Safety Manager and developing a resident engagement strategy would be a required part of a building’s safety case.
It was noted that at present EDDC did not currently have any in-scope buildings, however it was believed that further buildings, possibly sheltered blocks of flats would become in scope at a later date. The two options to fulfil the role of the Building Safety Manager was to appoint to the role or to discharge this duty to the senior management team within housing.
The Government asked for the Health and Safety Executive to establish a new building safety regulator to oversee the safe design, construction and occupation of high risk buildings so that residents were safe and felt safe. It would be independent and give expert advice to local regulators, landlords and building owners, the construction and design industry, and to residents. For new developments and major refurbishments there would be three gateways; pre-planning stage, pre-construction stage and pre-occupation stage.
The key points of the Building Safety Act for the future were:
· A stricter regime on building and refurbishment of buildings.
· Golden thread of information needed at all stages of the buildings.
· Fire door inspections.
· Stricter regime on fire safety inspections.
· Ensuring resident engagement.
On behalf of the Board the Chair thanked the Property and Asset Manager and the Compliance and Cyclical Servicing Manager for their presentation and commented that every agenda item would be covered by the Building Safety Act, and that compliance was key to all.