Welcome to this week’s building safety bulletin. This page outlines some of the significant news and changes affecting developers, leaseholders, contractors, housing providers, and anyone else interested in the UK’s building safety crisis.
1. Another developer signs remediation contract
This week, Viva Midco Limited, the parent company of Avant Homes, joined 46 other firms in signing the government’s developer self-remediation contract. Avant’s signature comes seven weeks after the government’s deadline. There are three developers – Abbey Developments, Dandara and Rydon Homes – that are yet to agree to the terms of the remediation contract. Dandara is reportedly currently holding ‘positive’ discussions with the Department.
2. Responsible Actors Scheme (RAS) draft regulations
Last week, the government published draft affirmative regulations for its Responsible Actors Scheme (RAS). If Parliament approves the draft conditions, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has said the regulations will become legally binding this summer.
Only those developers that have agreed with the terms of developer remediation contract will be eligible to join the Scheme, meaning they will be obligated to put programmes in place to remediate life-critical fire safety defects associated with residential buildings with heights of 11m and over. Failure to join the RAS will mean planning and building control prohibitions.
3. Building Safety Regulator (BSR) chief retires
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced that Peter Baker has retired as Head of the Building Safety Regulator (BSR), the body established by the Building Safety Act 2022. The HSE has stated this announcement ‘paves the way for a smooth transition of senior leadership of HSE’s construction operations and building safety responsibilities as the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) programme continues to remain firmly on track’. But for many the announcement has come as a shock. Some industry figures have reportedly expressed their fears that the announcement of Mr Baker’s retirement will ‘shake confidence’ in the new building safety regulatory regime. Philip White, Director of Regulation at the HSE, has been appointed as an interim replacement.
4. Conveyancing Association guidance
The Conveyancing Association (CA) has published its new guidance on the Building Safety Act and Building Safety (Leaseholder Protections) (England) Regulations 2022. The guide covers topics such as what is considered a ‘relevant building’ under the legislation, how to determine building heights and what are classed as ‘relevant defects’ under the current legislation.
5. Grenfell Tower Inquiry final report 24.
This week, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry team has said they are hoping their final report will be completed ‘before the end of 2023’. In the update, the Grenfell Inquiry said, ‘we recognise that everyone involved in the Inquiry wants the report to be published as soon as possible’ and that ‘we fully understand the importance that has for them and for the wider public’. However, the Inquiry also insisted that the report’s contents need to be ‘complete and accurate’ and that ‘individual chapters are at different stages of drafting’.