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Government consults on definition of higher risk buildings

Less than two months after the Building Safety Act 2022 came into force, the government has launched a consultation on the buildings to be covered by the new regulatory regime (referred to as “higher-risk buildings”).

The Consultation

Currently, the Act defines higher-risk buildings (during the design and construction phase) as:

  • Buildings of at least 18 metres or seven storeys in height; and
  • Containing two or more residential units; or
  • Is a hospital or a care home

The regime does not apply to hospitals or care homes once they are in occupation. The logic for this exclusion in occupation (as explained by the consultation) is that once in occupation hospitals and care homes are workplaces and therefore covered by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (SI 2005/1541).

The consultation seeks input as to whether any changes should be made to the current definition and whether any specific buildings should be excluded from the definition. The current proposal is to exclude hospitals, hotels and similar buildings prisons and military premises.

The consultation also seeks input into how buildings should be measured to assess whether the 18 metre / 7 storey threshold is met, proposing that the buildings should be measured from the ground level of the lowest side of the building to the upper surface floor of the top storey (excluding any top storeys consisting exclusively of plant rooms). This is the same method as set out in Approved Document B of the Building Regulations 2010.

The consultation only relates to England and closes on 21 July 2022.

The Act provides the industry with the framework for the new regime, but (as has been foreshadowed) much of the detail will be contained in secondary legislation to be developed and published over the course of the next 12 – 18 months, bringing greater clarity on how which buildings will be covered by the new regime and how it will operate in practice.

Consultation on the Higher Risk Buildings (Descriptions and Supplementary Provisions) Regulations

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