New regulator may not be set up until 2021

New regulator may not be set up until 2021

DAME JUDITH Hackitt, who will oversee the new building safety regulator, admitted that it is ‘not likely’ to be operating until 2021.

Last month, the government announced new measures including the new building safety regulator, which will be sited within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and ‘established immediately’. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick added that the regulator will ‘give effective oversight of the design, construction and occupation’ of high risk buildings, as part of the HSE, which will ‘quickly begin to establish’ it ‘in shadow form immediately’, prior to establishment with legislation.

The regulator will ‘raise building safety and performance standards’ and oversee a ‘new, more stringent regime’ for higher risk buildings, and Dame Judith will chair a board to ‘oversee the transition’. The HSE was chosen for its ‘strong track record of working with industry and other regulators to improve safety’, and would ‘draw on experience and the capabilities of other regulators to implement the new regime’.

However, Building has now reported on comments by Dame Judith that the regulator is ‘not likely to be up and running until 2021’, stating that the legislation that will underpin its formation ‘will not make it on to the statute books until next year’. She said she was ‘determined’ to get it running in shadow form ‘as soon as possible’, and noted that its scope was ‘likely to be wider than originally envisaged’.

Dame Judith stated: ‘We get that the sooner people have certainty around what is this going to look like the better, so we really do want to start operating in shadow mode more quickly than waiting for the regulation. Even though the bill will be laid before Parliament this year, it’s going to be sometime in 2021 at least before the act is on the statute book.’

On the scope of projects to be covered by the regulator, she added that these would ‘move beyond just high-rise residential buildings’, with those falling under the new regime to be determined by a range of risk factors and the government having already broadened its scope by proposing the regulator cover buildings taller than 18m, ‘compared to the 30m originally proposed’.

Dame Judith pointed out that this was ‘not going to be based on height alone. It is about the number and the vulnerability of the people who are exposed to risk, that is what this is all about’. She also noted: ‘They [HSE] don’t tell you what to do. They ask you to demonstrate what you are doing, what is reasonable and what is practical.

‘You have every reason to expect that they are going to operate in exactly the same way in relation to buildings. You also know how they [HSE] operate in terms of them being a firm but fair regulatory body – it won’t be a minor rap across the knuckles when you get it wrong anymore.’