New building safety plans in Wales at the centre of consultation

Photo by Josue Isai Ramos Figueroa on Unsplash

As part of plans to give Wales ‘the most comprehensive building safety regime in the UK’, a new white paper has been launched for consultation.

The Building Safety White Paper sets out proposals to reform legislation that contributes to building safety in Wales, covering all multi-occupied residential buildings from houses converted into two flats to high-rise apartment blocks.

Housing Minister Julie James commented on the White Paper launch: “In the wake of the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, the Welsh Government has already taken action to make buildings safer for residents.

“It’s always been clear, however, that far more fundamental changes were needed to improve building safety in the round.

“That’s why we are proposing improvements to every stage of the life-cycle of multi-occupied buildings, from design, through construction and into occupation, so new buildings are safe for each and every resident.

“Most importantly, these proposals are designed to empower residents by giving them far more say in the matters that affect their homes and providing clear channels for them to speak up and alert those responsible when things go wrong.

“Those who own and manage our buildings must live up to their obligations to put things right.

“These proposals, if passed into law in the next Senedd term, will create a new and much improved regime which puts the safety of residents first.”

The White Paper also includes:

  • Creating dutyholders, who will be legally responsible for safety and reducing fire risk throughout the lifecycle of the building;
  • An enhanced programme of checks during construction to support evidence of compliance;
  • The creation of two risk categories, with a ‘Golden Thread’ of up to date information about design, construction and ongoing maintenance required for all buildings of 18 metres or over;
  • A duty for building to contain the capacity to contain a fire where it originates for long enough to allow it to be extinguished.
  • New means for identifying and reducing risks of fire in blocks of flats.
  • A process for residents to raise building safety concerns;
  • A single process for escalating concerns to the regulator.

Last January, following a change to regulations, the use of combustible materials in cladding systems was banned in Wales.

This applied to all new residential buildings (flats, student accommodation and care homes) and hospitals over 18m in height.

The Welsh Government has launched a consultation seeking views on the proposals presented in the White Paper, which is open for responses until 12 April 2021.

More information about this consultation and how to respond is available on the Welsh Government website.