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Building Safety Bill ‘must align closely’ with new Planning Bill

The Palace of Westminster (Image: Dreamstime/Tomas1111)

Proposed government legislation to simplify the planning process should work in harmony with the looming building safety changes, says the CIOB.

The institution was commenting after the Queen’s Speech today (11 May), which introduced 30 pieces of legislation due to be passed this year, including the Building Safety Bill, Planning Bill, Procurement Bill, and Skills and Post-16 Education Bill.

Welcoming the government’s recognition of the built environment sector by placing it at the heart of the UK’s recovery from the covid-19 pandemic, the CIOB warned that with complex and overarching social, economic and environmental reforms proposed, it is essential that there is no conflict between the provisions set out in the new bills.

It called on the government to work closely with the CIOB and other built environment organisations to ensure that its proposed bills interact effectively.

Eddie Tuttle, director of policy, external affairs and research at CIOB, said: “We welcome the government’s intention to proceed with the Building Safety Bill, which outlines the first comprehensive reform of building safety regulations since their introduction under the 1984 Building Act. We believe the bill sets out a compelling vision for the future of the industry.

“However, the success of the new regime is heavily dependent on how the new Building Safety Regulator is constituted and how it operates. We encourage the government to make clear its intended timescale for the bill, to ensure that the safety of our buildings and their residents is addressed as a matter of urgency.”

“The Building Safety Bill must align closely with the announced Planning Bill, which is intended to create a simpler, faster and more modern planning system, ensuring homes and infrastructure can be delivered more quickly across England.

“Although we welcome the aims of the Planning Bill, we hold concerns that planned changes to permitted development rights (PDR) – if implemented without significant safeguards – could lock in unacceptable standard development which goes against the fundamental desire to improve building quality and safety set out in the Building Safety Bill.

“We encourage the government to be clear on how it will resolve any tension between the stated aims of PDR to increase the supply of housing by lessening the administrative burden on developers, and measures set out within the Building Safety Bill to strengthen regulatory oversight. Under current proposals, buildings created under PDR are not required to pass through the Gateway One checks specified in the Bill, thus potentially undermining the rigour of the new building safety framework.”

Lifetime Skills Guarantee

The CIOB also approved of the government’s new skills proposals.

“We welcome the announcement of a new Lifetime Skills Guarantee as part of the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill, to give everyone the chance to acquire new expertise at any stage of their lives, so that they have the skills employers need,” Tuttle said.

“Ensuring the construction industry has a steady supply of labour with the necessary skills continues to be a significant challenge. We believe that a jobs-led recovery focused on helping the UK meet its targets for improving air quality, lowering carbon emissions and improving energy efficiency through the retrofitting of the existing building stock is one such mechanism.

“We would like to see a detailed strategy from government setting out how it plans to increase the numbers of young people joining overlooked sectors such as construction. We urge them to work with the sector to identify in-demand and future skills; whilst promoting accessibility, to make sure that the skills strategy interacts and compliment other pieces of proposed legislation, to ensure a holistic approach.”

To read the transcript of the Queen’s speech, click here.

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