Times they are a-changing
15th August 2023
The Building Safety Act is being rolled out in phases, and the next significant deadline is just weeks away. Starting from October 1, 2023, Approved Inspectors and Local Authorities won’t process new applications for in-scope High Rise Buildings (HRBs), and the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) will become the Building Control Authority for HRBs in England. This change means that Approved Inspectors will no longer take on new work related to these higher-risk buildings. The HRB approval process will now involve Gateways 2 and 3, demanding more comprehensive information from developers at an earlier stage. Applicants must provide clear evidence to support their applications, including materials that contribute to the golden thread of building safety information. The client holds overall responsibility for the golden thread, while the principal designer manages it during the design phase. Projects will require detailed blueprints of the construction process, strategies for managing design changes, and ensuring alignment with approved plans upon completion.
An important question that now arises is what happens to projects that are already on the drawing board but not yet completed on-site – commonly known as “in-flight buildings”. Whilst the process for these buildings hasn’t been confirmed at the time of writing, the Government’s January 2023 consultation outlines the approach for these “in-flight” HRBs. Such buildings must have had their Initial Notice accepted or deemed accepted by the time the new regime comes into effect. This likely sets the deadline for using an Approved Inspector as September 22, 2023. It is expected there will then be a transitional period during which work must commence on-site; otherwise, the Initial Notice will lapse, and the project must reapply via the BSR.
For Approved Inspectors to continue to oversee ongoing higher-risk building work under the new regime, they must register as Building Control Approvers by April 2024 and remain the same legal entity. This could be crucial to some projects as industry consolidation has seen a spate of corporate takeovers of Approved Inspectors which won’t be able to fully consolidate into a single entity whilst dealing with these ongoing projects. Adding further complexity for ongoing projects, Michael Gove recently announced that the requirement for buildings to have two staircases will apply to structures taller than 18m. This regulatory change has posed challenges for developers and architects, leading to project delays for substantial re-designs. The Government has expressed its intention to collaborate with the industry and regulators to minimize disruption to ongoing projects, hinting that the same transitional measures could also apply to the two staircase rule. This could see a sudden rush of projects being submitted and commencing prior to the implementation date, but raises the question of how the BSR will use its post completion powers in relation to projects that were seen to exploit the process.
In the upcoming months, clarity is expected to emerge as Parliament returns from recess, and resumes its activities as vital secondary legislation is introduced. Stay connected with us on Social Media and sign up for our newsletter to stay informed about the progress. We’ll be focusing on various aspects of the Building Safety Act in the coming months. If you’re seeking a deeper understanding, we’re conducting CPD events throughout the winter to assist you in adapting to the new regime and understanding key changes required in your processes.
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