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Last edited 13 Jan 2021
Building safety in Wales
|The diagram sets out the high level consideration of how risks should be managed for Category 1 high rise residential buildings across their lifecycle.|
On 12 January 2021, the Welsh Government published a building safety white paper entitled Safer Buildings in Wales. The white paper presents proposals for comprehensive reform of legislation that contributes to Welsh building safety. It focuses on legislative change across the lifecycle of buildings and presents aspirations for culture change in the way buildings are designed, constructed and managed.
The white paper explains what the Welsh Government intends to do and invites anyone with an interest in the issues covered to tell the Building Safety Team of the Welsh Government what they think of the proposal. Responses are requested by 12 April 2021.
 Influential factors
Whilst Wales has a good record on fire safety, the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower showed the need to make changes and improvements to building safety systems throughout the country. The intention of the consultation is to create a rigorous building safety regime that would overhaul the existing system. The format of the paper sets out questions for consideration by those involved in building safety.
The proposals in the white paper build on the work presented in the Welsh Building Safety Expert Group’s report – Road Map to Safer Buildings in Wales. This includes the establishment of clear lines of accountability through the creation of new roles and responsibilities for those who own and manage relevant buildings. It will also mean providing a stronger regulatory system to hold those responsible to account and prioritsing the needs of residents, with enhanced rights and a stronger voice on matters affecting their homes.
The Building Safety Regime is intended to cover all multi-occupied residential buildings. This means the scope of the regime would capture a house converted into two flats, a licensed house in multiple occupation (HMO), a high-rise apartment block and other types of residential buildings where there is a risk from fire or structural safety that has the potential to impact significant numbers of people.
The white paper is a response to problems found by the Hackitt Review and the Grenfell Inquiry. Whilst these problems are very similar in England and Wales, the scale of the problems is very different; in England there are over 12,000 high rise (Category 1) residential buildings, but in Wales there are approximately 148.
The draft Building Safety Bill by the UK Government has presented an opportunity to take earlier action in the Welsh Government’s efforts to respond to the need to modernise both the building control system and the way the construction industry discharges its responsibilities. Therefore, the Welsh Government has made the decision to ask the UK Government to make a number of changes to the Building Act 1984 on its behalf.
- The Building Safety Regime (Design and Construction Phase) - this looks at Gateways, Dutyholders and Building Control Bodies.
- The Building Safety Regime (Occupation Phase) - this includes fire risk assessments, mandatory reporting and so on.
- Residents - Roles and Responsibilities - this defines the requirements for the Accountable Person and evacuation procedures for people with disabilities
- Regulating the Building Safety Regime - this covers regulatory objectives and models, along with enforcement and sanctions.
- General Requirements in Relation to Fire Safety Equipment - this proposes the consideration of stricter fire equipment measures adopted in Scotland through an amendment to the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Addressing building failures: Grenfell Tower and Edinburgh schools.
- Fire fatalities in Scotland.
- Fire (Scotland) Act 2005.
- Golden thread.
- Grenfell tower articles.
- Hackitt review of the building regulations and fire safety, final report.
- Independent review of the building regulations and fire safety.
- Planning (Wales) Act.
- Scottish planning policy.
- Welsh planning policy.
 External resources
- Building Safety Expert Group, A Road Map to safer buildings in Wales.
- Grenfell Tower Inquiry.
- Gov.uk, Draft Building Safety Bill.
- Gov.uk, Hackitt review.
- Legislation.gov.uk, Building Act 1984.
- Legislation.gov.uk, The Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 (Tolerable Standard) (Extension of Criteria) Order 2019.
- Welsh Government, Safer Buildings in Wales: A Consultation.
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