Regulation and legislation

In 2019, the government consulted on fundamental reform of the building safety regulatory system through its Building a Safer Future consultation.

In the consultation, the government made a number of proposals to implement the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety (Hackitt Review) recommendations.

Following extensive consultation with our members, we submitted a response to the consultation that highlights what these proposals mean for housing associations, the implications for our sector, and key issues for the government to consider. 

You can find details of our submission, including a summary and the full response, in the resources section of our website. 

The government is preparing its response to the consultation. We will keep our members updated on the government’s response, and work with you to understand the implications for the sector and to help you prepare. 

Hackitt Review

The Independent Review of Building Regulation and Fire Safety, the ‘Hackitt Review’, took place between July 2017 and May 2018.

Led by Dame Judith Hackitt, the review looked at current building regulations and fire safety with a particular focus on high-rise residential buildings. More specifically, the review team was tasked with:

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

Further resources:

Approved Document B

The government is reviewing Approved Document B (ADB), which addresses building regulation in England covering fire safety matters within and around buildings.

Open consultation to review the ban on the use of combustible materials in and on the external walls of buildings

The government announced a new consultation on 20 January to review the ban on the use of combustible materials on the external walls of new buildings.

The consultation, which is open until 13 April, is seeking views on:

  • The building types covered, including the inclusion of hotels, hostels and boarding houses.
  • Lowering the height threshold to buildings with a storey at least 11m above the ground.
  • Updating and extending the list of exemptions.
  • Extending the ban to include attachments such as blinds, shutters and awnings.
  • A proposal to specifically ban the use of metal composite panels with a polyethylene core in and on the external walls of all buildings.
  • Updating the performance requirements of the ban to include updated standards and additional classifications. 

We will be submitting a sector response to the consultation, and will prepare a briefing outlining the implication of these proposals for housing associations.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please get in touch.

Consultation on sprinkler provision in new high-rise blocks (now closed)

As part of the government’s review of Approved Document B, it consulted on the provision of sprinklers and other fire safety measures in new high-rise blocks of flats between September and November 2019.

The consultation proposed reducing the trigger height at which sprinkler systems would be required in new high-rise blocks of flats, and asked for views on trigger height options. It also proposed changes to wayfinding signage and evacuation alarms.

We submitted a sector response to the consultation, in which we:

  • Call for a risk-based approach to buildings that fall outside the scope of the proposals, which takes into account other factors besides height when assessing a building's risk. 
  • Identify areas where we believe the proposals need further consideration. For example, we're calling on the Government to consult with the sprinkler industry prior to finalising the transition period. This would help to mitigate the risk of cost and demand spikes that could render some building programmes unviable. 
  • Outline the challenges our sector could face in adopting these proposals, so that we can work with the Government to overcome there. 
  • Commit to engaging further with the Government and other partners to achieve effective future regulatory change.  

The government has proposed lowering the height threshold for sprinkler requirements in new buildings, and will set out detailed proposals on how it intends to deliver the technical review of fire guidance in February. 

Call for evidence (now closed)

As part of this review, in March 2019 the Federation submitted views to the Government’s call to evidence. In this submission we:

  • Set out our support for a review of the guidance and our sector’s commitment to ensuring residents’ safety.
  • Outline the considerations that the Government will need to make to achieve this, and offer to work with them so that any changes to guidance consider the people living in the sector’s homes.
  • Highlight the potential for unintended consequences on the affordability and availability of new housing, so that measures to mitigate this potential are considered at the outset. 

The government has published an analysis of the responses to the call for evidence.

Resources: 

Fire Safety Bill 

Through the Queen’s Speech on 19 December 2019, the government announced its intentions to introduce a new Fire Safety Bill. This would outline in more detail how it will take forward the recommendations of the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry Phase 1 report.

It was announced on 20 January that the new Bill would clarify the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, requiring residential building owners to fully consider and mitigate the risks of any external wall systems, and front doors to individual flats.

Building safety regulator

The government announced on 20 January that it will begin establishing a new building safety regulator in shadow form. The new regulator will sit within the Health and Safety Executive, and Dame Judith Hackitt will chair a board to oversee the transition.

The regulator’s role will be to raise building safety and performance standards, including overseeing a new, more stringent regime for higher-risk buildings.

Who to speak to

Victoria Moffett, Head of Building and Fire Safety Programmes