Demystifying the Building Safety Regulator
Authors: Phoebe Winter & Rupert Parker
Published: 21st December 2021
Dame Judith Hackitt’s ‘Building a Safer Future’ report, commissioned following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower in 2017, suggested the appointment of a new regulator responsible for “oversee(ing) the safe design, construction and occupation of high-risk buildings so that residents are safe and feel safe” (HSE).
In January 2020 the government announced that the HSE would be responsible for setting up the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) further to Dame Judith Hackitt’s advice. The draft Building Safety Bill was subsequently published on 20 July 2020 and in February 2021 the HSE appointed Peter Baker to the role of Chief Inspector of Buildings, whose job it is to set up and lead the new BSR.
"bringing about the biggest change in building safety for a generation" - Peter Baker, Chief Inspector of Buildings
Peter had previously been HSE’s Director of Building Safety and Construction, and has 30 years of experience in the construction industry. Since 2017, he has been involved in the Government’s Building Safety Programme.
Peter said he felt “honoured…for the opportunity to play a lead role in bringing about the biggest change in building safety for a generation”. He aims to deliver on a “risk-based regulatory system for the safety and standards of buildings that residents can have confidence in”. Baker has received praise from both Sarah Newton, Chair of HSE, and Dame Judith Hackitt, whom he will regularly work alongside.
Peter Baker (photo credits www.building.co.uk)
In line with the belief of HSE that “those who create risks are best placed to control them”, the BSR will perform three main functions:
ensuring the delivery of the new regulatory regime for at-risk buildings;
overseeing safety and performance across all buildings in the UK; and
promoting the competence among professionals, tradespeople and building control professionals
In order to drive forward the aims of the BSR, Peter’s responsibilities in leading the BSR will include:
Toughening regulations, creating a more stringent regime for high-risk residential buildings.
Increasing engagement with residents and the sector.
Providing advice to owners of high-rise buildings.
Raising standards in design, construction and building management through promoting competence among industry professionals and regulators.
Overseeing the performance systems of all buildings, and providing guidance on building performance and safety.
Assuring the safety of high-risk buildings.
Improving competence of those responsible for managing and overseeing building work.
Including factors like climate change in regulatory decisions.
Providing advice to “local regulators, landlords and building owners, the construction and design industry, and to residents”.
"those who create risks are best placed to control them" - HSE
The Building Safety Bill, when it receives royal assent and becomes the Building Safety Act, will establish in law the new BSR and enable it to work with local authorities and fire and rescue authorities to ensure that specialists and regulators are working harmoniously to regulate at-risk buildings. The Bill will also enable residents, via expert committees, to have a say in the development of policies that are adopted by the BSR as it strives to deliver on its ultimate aim of de-risking the built environment.
Until the Building Safety Act is published, the BSR will be aiding the government in the development of the reforms, and preparing itself and the built environment sector for the new regulatory regime.
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Lowe, T., 2021. Head of new building safety regulator appointed. [online] Housing Today. Available at: https://www.housingtoday.co.uk/news/head-of-new-building-safety-regulator-appointed/5110451.article [Accessed 22nd June 2021].
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