The government has announced it will adopt Judith Hackitt’s post-Grenfell review of Building Regulations ‘in full’ as part of its bid to make the construction industry ‘more responsible’
The Hackitt Review, published in the wake of the fire that claimed 72 lives, delivered a damning verdict on the industry it said had seen ‘a race to the bottom’ on safety.
Outlining the government’s plan for implementing the review, housing secretary James Brokenshire said adopting the review’s 53 recommendations would deliver a ’more effective regulatory and accountability framework’.
The plan includes a Joint Regulators’ Group to test the new regulatory system ahead of any new proposed legislation and a new Standards Committee to advise on construction product and system standards and regulations.
The Joint Regulators’ Group will involve the Health Safety Executive (HSE), Local Authority Building Control (LABC), the Fire and Rescue Services and the Local Government Association (LGA).
It also includes tougher sanctions for those who disregard residents’ safety, more rigorous standards and guidance for those undertaking building work, and a stronger voice for residents.
The government has said its plan, titled Building a Safer Future, will aim to create a ’culture change and a more responsible building industry’, from design through to construction.
When the Hackitt Review was published in May it drew condemnation from groups including the RIBA for its failure to recommend an outright ban on combustible cladding.
However, the government has since brought in a ban on cladding following sustained pressure from campaigners including Grenfell United, a group representing survivors and families of the bereaved.
Chair of the RIBA’s expert group on fire safety Jane Duncan said while the plan contained some ‘welcome proposals’ including proper testing of fire safety products the update was ‘long overdue’.
The regulations on fire safety remain unfit for purpose and the same as when the Grenfell Tower tragedy took place
‘With the exception of new regulations for combustible cladding, the Building Regulations relating to fire safety remain unfit for purpose, the same as they were when the Grenfell Tower tragedy took place, over 18 months ago,’ she said.
She added: ‘Furthermore, until we see real reform of the procurement processes for construction projects, the pressure to cut costs will continue to incentivise the use of cheaper and ultimately riskier materials, reduction in accountability and a lack of competence and supervision.
‘The government must urgently reform the inspection process, and place a holistic focus on safety, and building quality.’
Housing secretary James Brokenshire said: ‘There is nothing more important than being safe in your own home and I am determined to improve building safety.
’My plan for stronger, tougher rules will make sure there is no hiding place for those who flout building safety rules.
’By making people responsible and more accountable for safety, we will create a more rigorous system so residents will always have peace of mind that they are safe in their own homes.’