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Queen’s Speech proposes new building safety regulator and Ombudsman for developers

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  • 14/10/2019
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Queen’s Speech proposes new building safety regulator and Ombudsman for developers
The government has proposed a new building safety regulator and a separate New Homes Ombudsman to which new-build developers must belong, in today's Queen's Speech.

 

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick tweeted that the regulator would have “powers to enforce criminal sanctions”.

The New Homes Ombudsman, he continued, would “protect the rights of home buyers and hold developers to account.”

The reforms amounted to “the biggest shake up of the sector in 40 years,” ministers reportedly told the Guardian.

The wide-ranging proposals take forward all 53 recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt in her review of building safety following the Grenfell Tower fire.

The proposed safety framework for high-rise residential buildings will include: 

  • Clearer accountability for, and stronger duties on, those responsible for the safety of high-rise building through design, construction and occupation, with clear competence requirements to ensure high standards are upheld;
  • Giving residents a stronger voice in the system, ensuring their concerns are never ignored and they fully understand how they can contribute to maintaining safety in their buildings;
  • Strengthening enforcement and sanctions to deter non-compliance with the regime in order to hold the right people to account when mistakes are made and ensure they are not repeated;
  • Developing a new stronger and clearer framework to provide national oversight of construction products, to ensure all products met high performance standards;
  • Developing a new system to oversee the whole built environment, with local enforcement agencies and national regulators working together to ensure that the safety of all buildings is improved; and
  • Legislating to require that developers of new build homes must belong to a New Homes Ombudsman.

The government estimated the new regime applied to more than 11,000 high rise buildings today and will affect up to 15,000 blocks over 10 years. These numbers “will be refined as details are finalised”, it said.

The rules will apply in England, but with “UK oversight of construction projects reserved”.

The main benefits will be to “learn lessons” from the Grenfell Tower fire and to change the regulatory framework for high-rise residential buildings and the industry culture “to ensure accountability and responsibility and to ensure that residents are safe in their homes”.

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