Government confirms biggest changes to building safety in a generation

Jessica Nangle

April 3, 2020

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP (pictured) has unveiled ambitious steps to further reform the building safety system with the biggest changes “in a generation” to ensure residents are safe in their homes.

New measures include mandatory sprinkler systems and consistent wayfinding signage in all new high-rise blocks of flats over 11 metres tall.

The government’s construction expert, David Hancock, has also been appointed to review the progress of removing unsafe ACM claddings from buildings.

The reforms are designed to incentivise compliance and to better enable the use of enforcement powers and sanctions, including prosecution where the rules are not abided by.

Jenrick will be holding a roundtable with mortgage lenders to work on an agreed approach to mortgage valuations for properties in buildings under 18 metres tall.

Robert Jenrick said: “The government is bringing about the biggest change in building safety for a generation.

“We have made a major step towards this by publishing our response to the Building a Safer Future consultation.

“This new regime will put residents’ safety at its heart, and follows the announcement of the unprecedented £1bn fund for removing unsafe cladding from high-rise buildings in the Budget.

“We are also announcing that the housing industry is designing a website so lenders and leaseholders can access the information needed to proceed with sales and remortgaging, and the government stands ready to help to ensure this work is completed at pace.

“Building safety is a priority and the government is supporting industry in ensuring homes are safe at this difficult time.”

The government says it recognises the challenges presented to the building industry by COVID-19, but the work to remove unsafe cladding from buildings is critical to public safety and remains a top priority.

The government has also made clear that vital maintenance and repair work can continue to take place in line with public health guidance.

This comes following a government announcement earlier this year of a new national Building Safety Regulator, which is already being established in shadow form by the Health and Safety Executive.

Mark Hayward, chief executive at NAEA Propertymark, added: “Public safety is paramount, and we’re pleased the government is introducing changes to ensure residents are kept safe.

“The introduction of a website will allow lenders and leaseholders to access information in a timely manner, enable transactions to go through quicker, and help those who have been left unable to sell or remortgage their property to do so.

“Ultimately, these changes will help the housing market get back on its feet once we’ve moved through this period of uncertainty.”

Sign up to our daily email