The deadly Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 has made the government keen to bring forward new laws aimed at improving building safety for residents and businesses alike, and it has launched public consultations to gather insights on its proposals.
Building on the recommendations from Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, the consultations are being conducted simultaneously by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) and the Home Office.
The latter’s call for evidence on the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in England concerns business premises such as offices, warehouses, and commercial venues. Meanwhile the MHCLG’s consultation seeks views on what the ministry described as a radically new building and fire safety regime.
Both will run for eight weeks until July 31. The consultation documents are available on gov.uk.
“Following the Grenfell Tower fire, the government committed to reforming the building industry to make sure a tragedy like this does not happen again,” stated the MHCLG. “The aim is for these building safety reforms to work together to improve safety by creating a culture change in the building industry.”
The proposals include the concept of dutyholders having clear responsibilities throughout a building’s design, construction, and occupation as well as strengthening enforcement and sanctions to deter non-compliance with the new system.
As for the workplaces version, Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd had this to say: “The Grenfell Tower fire was an unimaginable tragedy and we are determined to do everything we can to stop it ever happening again.
“The government is making good progress on improving the safety of high-rise flats, but we must also look at the wider building safety landscape, including the places where we all work. To help keep people safe, we want to ensure the Fire Safety Order is fit for purpose. To do this, we need to understand how it is working on the ground and make informed decisions in the future.”
Group legal claim
In a related development, a group legal claim has been launched by leaseholders of flats that are part of the New Capital Quay (NCQ) development in London. The claim against Roamquest and Galliard Homes centres on fire safety issues including the use of combustible cladding.
“The new build insurer the National House Building Council (NHBC) determined following an extensive investigation that the building regulations were breached and agreed to pay for the cost of replacing the cladding,” stated law firm Leigh Day, which currently represents 58 leaseholders who between them own 36 flats.
“However, many other losses caused by the fire safety defects are not covered by the policy and the claimants are therefore seeking compensation for those from Roamquest and Galliard Homes. Those losses include various individual expenses, loss of income, reduction in property values, and the distress and inconvenience.”
Leigh Day added that it is not clear whether other costs, such as the 24-hour waking watch as well as any insurance premium increases, will be passed on to the leaseholders through their annual service charge.
NCQ consists of 11 tower blocks and more than 1,000 flats. The property is a combination of private apartments and social housing.