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Building Safety Regulator publishes its first strategic plan

Building Safety Regulator - A view of residential high-rises.

The Building Safety Regulator (BSR) has published its first three-year strategic plan.

The 27-page document, which includes a foreword by housing minister Michael Gove, sets how the BSR will deliver the building safety regime from April 2023 (when the regulator was launched) until March 2026.

The BSR is an offshoot of the Health and Safety Executive introduced by the Building Safety Act 2022 to oversee and enforce the new building safety regime. The strategic plan is a requirement under the BSA.

It aims to keep a focus on the priorities to deliver the new building safety regime. It will be kept under review, especially after the publication of the Grenfell Inquiry report expected next year.

By April 2026, BSR’s goal is to have assessed about 40% of occupied higher-risk buildings, representing 65% of residential dwellings in England.

Change underway

BSR said it is already noticing the impact the independent regulatory body is having on the design of new high-rise buildings in England.

HSE became the statutory consultee for planning gateway one in August 2020 (for developments that include a ‘relevant building’). Planning gateway one is part of the new building safety regime and was explicitly recommended by Dame Judith Hackett alongside the creation of the BSR. It requires developers seeking planning permission for a high-rise building to submit a comprehensive fire and structural safety report.

In the first two years of planning gateway one (August 2021-2023), HSE received 3,258 consultation requests from local planning authorities. This figure represents the totality of all cases handled by planning gateway one in its first two years of operation.

During that period, the quality of applications submitted improved by 28 percentage points: while in August 2022 the BSR raised objections on 59% of applications received, the percentage decreased to 31% by August 2023.

The strategy plan also includes a roadmap detailing the implementation, consolidation and steady-state phases of the plan.

Key dates in the BSR strategic plan roadmap

Early 2024

  • Additional duties applying to Accountable Persons and Principal Accountable Persons come into force.
  • Residents’ complaints system opens.
  • BSR taking action on unremediated higher-risk buildings.
  • BSR will have created the national register of higher-risk buildings, providing a searchable portal of higher-risk buildings in England for the first time.

Spring 2024

  • Building inspector and building control approver registration becomes mandatory.

Beyond March 2026

  • Any work on remediating dangerous cladding will be completed or underway.
  • BSR will consider what further provision or guidance may be needed regarding stairs and ramps in relevant buildings; emergency egress of disabled persons from relevant buildings; and automatic water fire suppression systems in relevant buildings.

Overseeing a culture of higher standards

Philip White, HSE’s director of building safety, said: “This strategic plan sets out the guiding principles we have put in place to keep us focused on our priorities in delivering the new regime, and we will keep it under continuous review. We will ensure we have the right capability and capacity to meet this challenge as our remit continues to evolve, working with others sharing knowledge, expertise, and data.

“Our focus is clear and resolute as we oversee a culture of higher standards, putting building safety first. Our regulatory activities will be conducted in a way which is transparent, accountable, proportionate, and consistent.

“Throughout the next three years, BSR will continue to work across all sectors to ensure that those working in the building sector engage fully with the new regime. Our aim is that people will see fundamental changes to the safety and standard of all buildings and increased competency among industry professionals that raises those standards year on year.”

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