Exploring Gateways for Building Safety Regulation

In the realm of construction and urban development, ensuring the safety of buildings is paramount. Building safety regulators play a crucial role in establishing and upholding standards to protect occupants and the community at large. Navigating the complex landscape of building safety regulation involves understanding key gateways that shape and enforce these standards. In this blog post, we’ll explore the fundamental gateways for building safety regulation and their significance in creating resilient and secure built environments.

Gateway One – Prior to Obtaining Planning Permission

The initial gateway stands as the least demanding among the trio of newly established gateways. Its primary objective is to ensure early-stage consultation with the local fire authority.

The second gateway signifies a fundamental shift in the construction landscape of England. This shift is anticipated to substantially diminish opportunities for value engineering while concurrently escalating construction costs. Gateway One exclusively applies to new high-rise residential structures of 30 meters or more. There is a possibility of extending its reach to other developments in the ‘near vicinity,’ contingent upon the outcomes of the consultation.

Key features of Gateway One include:

  • Designating local fire and rescue authorities as ‘statutory consultees’ during the planning process, compelling the local planning authority to consult them before granting planning permission.
  • Requiring the client to submit a fire statement, encompassing fire service vehicle access and access to water supplies, along with the planning application.

 Gateway Two – Prior to Commencing Construction

The second gateway holds paramount significance among the three gateways, signifying a profound transformation in the construction practices of England. Under the new framework, no construction activity can commence without regulatory approval from Gateway Two, imposing substantial constraints on alterations to submitted plans and specifications. This shift is projected to curtail opportunities for value engineering and lead to a notable increase in construction costs.

Gateway Two applies to new multi-occupied buildings of 18 meters or more and significant refurbishments of existing buildings within its scope. These new requirements complement the existing ‘full plans building application’ stage under the 2010 Building Regulations, fostering early communication between the regulator and dutyholder regarding risks and their management.

Dutyholders must compile and submit various components of the ‘golden thread’ of information about the building, including:

  • Full plans, including a detailed specification addressing how fire and structural safety risks will be managed.
  • A 3D digital model of the building ‘as planned,’ showcasing the construction products to be used.
  • A Fire and Emergency File, building upon the fire statement from Gateway One and continuously updated throughout construction.
  • A Construction Control Plan outlining how compliance with the Building Regulations will be achieved, with major safety-affecting changes requiring approval from the principal designer, client, and building safety regulator.

Gateway Three – Prior to Building Occupation

The third gateway is designed to ensure a thorough handover of the building from construction stakeholders to those responsible for its management during occupation and will be phased in for all existing buildings within the regulatory scope. Substantial effort will be needed to recreate the golden thread for these buildings.

Requirements for Gateway Three approval include:

  • A declaration from the principal contractor and principal designer confirming Building Regulations compliance.
  • Handover of building safety information for the final, as-built structure.
  • Registration of the building.
  • Registration of the accountable person responsible for building safety and the appointed building manager.
  • A safety case for the building, identifying hazards, describing risk control measures, and detailing safety management systems, including emergency response procedures.

Upon regulator satisfaction, a building safety certificate permitting occupation will be issued. The regulator may impose conditions on the certificate, subjecting the certificate and safety case to a review every five years.

In conclusion, the establishment of a robust government gateway for building safety regulation emerges as a cornerstone in our collective commitment to fostering secure and resilient communities. By implementing well-defined checkpoints throughout the entire lifecycle of a building—from initial design and permitting to regular inspections and ongoing maintenance—we pave the way for a safer built environment. The efficacy of this gateway not only safeguards lives but also contributes significantly to the sustainable and secure future of our communities. As we navigate the dynamic landscape of construction and urban development, the role of the government gateway becomes paramount, symbolising our dedication to prioritising safety, promoting resilience, and ensuring the enduring well-being of those who call these spaces home. Through collaborative efforts and continuous innovation, this gateway stands as a testament to our unwavering commitment to building a safer, more sustainable future for all.