Last edited 30 Apr 2021

Golden thread

In December 2017, Dame Judith Hackitt said in her interim report following the Grenfell Tower Fire: “There needs to be a golden thread for all complex and high-risk building projects so that the original design intent is preserved and recorded, and…any changes go through a formal review process involving people who are competent and who understand the key features of the design."

On 16 May 2018, Building a Safer Future, Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report, was published, stating: 'The interim report identified the need for a ‘golden thread’ of information for all higher risk residential buildings (HRRBs), so that their original design intent is preserved and changes can be managed through a formal review process. Equally, access to up-to-date information is crucial when effectively carrying out a fire risk assessment of a building and determining whether any action is required.'

A reformed building safety regulatory system, Government response to the ‘Building a Safer Future’ consultation, published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in April 2020 states:

Duty-holders will be responsible for creating and maintaining the golden thread of building information related to fire and structural safety. The golden thread will be held digitally to ensure that the original design intent and any subsequent changes to the building are captured, preserved and used to support safety improvements. At the handover stage between Gateway three and occupation, key information (the golden thread) will have to be handed over from the Client to the Accountable Person - both will need to confirm that this has happened. The Accountable Person will continue to be responsible for the golden thread and ensuring the information remains accurate and up to date.

The Explanatory Notes to the Draft Building Safety Bill, published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government on 20 July 2020, defines the golden thread of information as: 'Fire and structural safety building information held digitally to specific standards. These standards will include requirements around robust information management and keeping the information up to date. The golden thread will ensure that those responsible for the building have the required information to manage building safety during throughout the lifecycle of the building'

NB, The term 'golden thread' is also used in relation to the soft landings framework. The Government Construction Strategy: One Year On suggests that '...the reason for the creation of an asset and its intended business purpose, the 'golden thread', can often be lost in the construction process. GSL (Government Soft Landings) will be used to maintain this 'golden thread' and ensure its continuation into the building's operative stage.'

And in relation to planning, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) suggests that, 'the purpose of the planning system is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development' and that development that is sustainable should go ahead, without delay, that is, a presumption in favour of sustainable development should be '…a golden thread running through both plan-making and decision-taking'.

In December 2020, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and i3PT published the research report, The Golden Thread: Understanding the capability and capacity of the UK built environment to deliver and retain digital information. The report looks at the industry's understanding of the golden thread, how responsibility for its delivery might be distributed, current capacity and capability of the built environment to deliver, and potential blockers and solutions.

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