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New building safety regulators proposed for Wales

Friday 15 January 2021

The Welsh Government’s Building Safety White Paper covers all multi-occupied residential buildings, from houses converted into flats through to high rise apartment blocks. It sets out major reforms to how properties are designed, built, managed, and lived in whilst proposing clear lines of accountability and a stronger regulatory system.

The White Paper sets out new laws to safeguard residents through every stage of the building’s life cycle. If approved by the Senedd, Wales will have the most comprehensive building safety regime in the UK, with residents, crucially, given a much stronger voice on matters affecting their homes.

The new rules include:

  • Clear lines of accountability through the creation of duty holders legally responsible for safety and reducing fire risk
  • The creation of two risk categories, with a ‘Golden Thread’ of up-to-date information covering design, construction, and ongoing maintenance required for buildings 18 metres or over
  • Buildings must be able to contain a fire long enough for it be extinguished
  • New means for identifying and reducing fire risk in blocks of flats, making it easier for landlords and others to understand and apply
  • A process for residents to raise building safety concerns
  • A single process for escalating concerns to the regulator

In January, the Welsh Government banned the use of combustible materials in cladding for all new residential buildings, including hospitals, over 18m in height. The proposed new rules will go even further in promoting building safety following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

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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, 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.

Julie James, Welsh Housing Minister