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The Building Safety Regulator

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One of the many legislative changes arising out of the Building Safety Act 2022 (“BSA”) is the establishment of The Building Safety Regulator (“BSR”), a national organisation embedded in the Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”)”.

The BSR is already said to exist in ‘shadow form’ with the Chief Inspector of Buildings having been appointed in February 2021. The current intention is for the key elements of the BSR’s role to be phased in within 12–18 months from Royal Assent of the BSA, and the BSR will operate as part of HSE from April 2023.

Ultimately, the BSR will have oversight of the new building safety regime and will utilise its powers of enforcement and sanctions with the view of ensuring compliance by those responsible for the construction and management of higher risk buildings. The critical functions of the BSR will include:

  1. Implementing the regulatory regime for higher risk buildings” i.e., residential blocks of at least 18 metres or 7 stories in height. To this effect, the BSR should provide assistance and encouragement to leaseholders, residents, landlord and management companies with regard to securing the safety of those living and working in high rise blocks of flats. The BSR will also be the building control authority in respect of any building work on higher risk buildings and will be responsible for all regulatory decisions during the design, construction, occupation and refurbishment; and
  2. Overseeing the safety and performance of all buildings, regardless of height.

To exercise its regulatory powers, it is envisioned that the BSR will work alongside local authorities, fire and rescue authorities and technical experts. It will be involved in taking enforcement action where necessary and importantly, recovering costs from regulated parties. Draft Regulations were published in August 2022 which state that the BSR may charge fees for the performance of its duties and importantly, may recover certain costs from the principal accountable person. Further developments as to this are awaited.

Where construction or significant refurbishment works are underway to higher risk buildings, the BSR will receive information from the project duty holders at three defined “Gateways”. A project will not be able to commence or be occupied on completion without the agreement of the BSR - who will also have the power to stop works on site if there are concerns as to building safety.

The BSR will also create several committees, including the Statutory Residents Panel, where residents of higher risk buildings in England are given the opportunity to get involved with the reforms to help shape policy and guidance. Indicative of Parliament’s intention to increase communication with leaseholders, HSE’s Chief Inspector of Buildings recently said, 'Good communication with all high-rise residents is so critical to the success of the BSR and the new regime. We want to make sure residents understand what the reforms mean for them, what their rights are, and what part they will play in the building safety regime in the future. This panel will act as the voice of their community'.

In due course, the BSR will carry out a review of whether changes are needed to electrical safety, escape staircases, sprinkler systems and the evacuation of disabled persons.

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