Gary Strong FRICS, Global Building Standards Director at RICS, responds to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government‘s (MHCLG) building safety announcement.
RICS has worked closely with ministers, consumer bodies and industry to overhaul building safety rules to address the major challenges post-Grenfell.
Dame Judith Hackitt called for sweeping reforms of the regulatory system, and the Housing Secretary’s announcements yesterday, including further detail on a new national building safety regulator, deliver these reforms — setting the foundations for a safer built environment. We look forward to playing our part alongside the Ministry of Housing and the HSE as this new regulator is established and crucial reforms are implemented.
The new measures to mandate sprinklers in new-builds over 11m are also vital to improving building safety in England, and something RICS pushed for. We are pleased Government has listened, but we have also urged for this to be extended to existing buildings, where necessary and possible.
RICS also has been working with stakeholders and the ministry on the issue of valuation in buildings with external wall systems (EWS), including the development of an EWS form for valuing high-rise buildings. While this EWS form requires owners to determine the safety of cladding on their buildings over 18m, we need support from the Government to establish an industry-led portal to clarify the valuation process and make information more easily accessible to industry and leaseholders will increase clarity in the marketplace.
Buildings with combustible cladding below 18m will continue to be a concern for many tenants, leaseholders and building owners, and we will continue our work with stakeholders on a solution.
While it has taken perhaps too long to implement some of these measures, we appreciate the need to get this right as the legislation is vital to improving building safety. There is an urgent need to deliver better safety for people’s homes, communities and workplaces and the RICS is committed to being at the heart of this in the public interest.
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